Immigration & Green Card Law Firm, Lawyers, Attorneys: San Franscisco Bay Area to San Jose: How To Maintain A Permanent Resident Status

Saturday, June 16, 2007

How To Maintain A Permanent Resident Status


Many aliens are under the mistaken belief that once they acquire lawful permanent residence, they can return to their home and employment in their home country, and they can maintain their permanent resident status by visiting the United States only briefly each year. Similarly, many other aliens blindedly believe by simply applying for a reentry permit, they can stay abroad for an extended period of time and still maintain their status. Such aliens will call lawyers to ask for an instant service for reentry permit, but, more often than not, they do not inquire about their bigger goal, i.e., maintaining a lawful permanent resident status, and the lawyer may neglect to go into much detail. Well, here is the bad news. Simply using your Form I-551 (i.e. green card) each year for visits to the United States does not entitle you to retain your lawful resident status. Nor would the use of Reentry Permit guarantee readmission to the United States.

When lawful permanent residents depart from the United States, returning residents are not entitled to a right to return. Although it sounds strange, when they seek to reenter the United States, they are actually applying for admission as special immigrants (i.e., immigrants, lawfully admitted for permanent residence, who are returning from a temporary visit abroad.) Thus, the returning resident must show his or her intention to remain a lawful permanent resident in the United States and his or her absence abroad was temporary. Then, how do you prove your intention to remain a lawful permanent residence and what does the term "temporary'' mean?
In order to determine subjective intent, various elements may be examined. First, the alien should normally have a definite reason for proceeding abroad temporarily. Second, the visit abroad should be expected to terminate within a relatively short and fixed period. However, if unforeseen circumstances cause an unavoidable delay in returning, the trip would still be considered temporary as long as the alien continues to intend to return as soon as his original purpose was completed. Third, the alien must intend to return to the U.S. as a place of employment or business or as an actual home. This requisite intention must have existed from the time of departure throughout the course of the visit. Finally, the location of alien's ties such as family, job, or property, may also be considered in determining the alien's intent.In addition to the above issue, returning residents must present a valid unexpired immigrant visa or other valid entry document at the time of application for admission. A returning resident's Form I-551 (i.e. green card) is a sufficient entry document for absences of one year or less. However, after an absence of more than one year, the returning resident must be in possession of a reentry permit or an immigrant visa issued by a U.S. consulate located abroad.

Reentry Permits

A departing alien who plans on being absence for a significant period of time may apply for a reentry permit. By applying for a reentry permit before the departure, the returning resident will be relieved of having to apply for a returning resident visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. Thus, reentry permits serve as a valid entry document after absences of more than one year and may be helpful in providing evidence of the alien's intent. However, reentry permits are simply an entry document. The returning resident will still have to establish, among other things, that he or she has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence; and that such residence has not been abandoned. Also, in almost all cases, please note that an absence of more than one year will break the period of continuous residence required to become a citizen, even if a reentry permit is issued.

Reentry permits are valid for not more than two years from the date of issuance and are not extended. The applicant must be in the United States at the time the application is filed.
I hope this article explains that maintaining a lawful permanent residence is not as simple as what the common assumptions make it seem like. Again, frequent trips back to the U.S. or even the use of Reentry Permit will not guarantee readmission to the United States. Given the above, I strongly advise those readers, who have plans to stay abroad for a prolonged period of time or have yet to establish real ties in the U.S., to have a consultation with a qualified immigration lawyer before you depart from the U.S. and eliminate any lingering doubts about your status.

The information provided throughout the Website is general in nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of Heller Immigration Law Group, LLP, or establish an attorney-client relationship.

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