What happens to my green card if I have to be overseas for long stretches of time?
This is a question that often arises in our office. Our first advice is to remind clients that each time they return to the U.S. they are essentially knocking at the door and requesting permission to enter. Each entry requires the permanent resident to demonstrate that his/her primary abode is the U.S. and that the trip abroad was not for residence purposes. There are no clear cut rules as to how a green card holder can demonstrate maintenance of U.S. residence but a few rules of thumb are worth keeping in mind:
Do not remain outside the U.S. for longer than 11 months without first obtaining a Re-entry Permit which allows permanent residents to remain outside of the U.S. for up to two years while maintaining their green cards.
If you are gone for several months at a time, the most important item you should be prepared to show the inspecting CBP officer is a copy of your most recent U.S. tax return.
Be sure to have your wallet full of U.S. plastic and not the library cards and credit cards of the place you are coming from.
In our next blog we’ll give you other suggestions of items to keep in an envelope in case the questioning gets tough!!!