After a lot of pitfalls and waiting, you finally got your green card. A green card allows you to be a Permanent Resident in the United States. Want to know how to keep your green card, if you have to leave the United States for another country for a while? If you think you will be away for more than 6 months, it is imperative that BEFORE leaving to apply for a re-entry permit. It is a document that plays the same role as a passport, which allows you to return to the USA without problems for 2 years (or less, the expiry date is indicated on the permit).
Leaving the Country
You should leave the country for no more than once every 6 months. If this is not possible, then request a re-entry permit. Theoretically, the law allows one year outside the USA, but you will be in serious trouble if you miss the 6 months. Immigration does not consider the number of days you spend in the USA as the right to give you a green card. The length of your absences is taken into consideration.
Getting the Re-entry Permit
How do you get the re-entry permit? First, you can only leave after being sure that CIS has received your request, even if it is not yet approved. You can choose to have this re-entry permit sent to the consulate at your residence abroad or to friends in the USA that will forward it to you.
Being Away Too Long
What if you are away for a long time? What if your absence is longer and you have not requested a reentry permit? You will have the right to a prolonged passage, but immigration officers will try to pressure you into signing a paper saying that you are giving up your green card. Don’t sign anything. Talk to a green card lawyer Los Angeles offers.
If you are firm, they will eventually give you a summons to appear before an Immigration Judge, usually a few weeks or months later. This can be really annoying, but it will be the price to pay for keeping your green card.
The Judicial Process
When you appear before the judge, you will have to show that you never wanted to give up your permanent residence in the USA. For example, you will need to show that you:
- Have filed your US tax return as a resident each year.
- Maintained a US bank account and credit cards.
- Worked for an American employer, showing proof of wages.
- You must have a Driver’s License and have retained ownership of a house or apartment.
- An explanatory and detailed letter from your US employer, if you have one, is important.
- If you left the US for family reasons, for example, the illness of a loved one, you will need to collect all the evidence to show.
In view of the supporting documents that you have produced, the judge will decide whether or not you keep your green card. It is recommended that you seek the advice and legal assistance of an immigration lawyer.