Maintaining Permanent Residence

You can use your green card for re-entering the US within one year of departure.

If you are going for longer, you should apply for a “reentry permit” which will allow you to reenter for up to two years.  If you don’t get this reentry permit before you leave, then you will have to get a “special immigrant” visa from the consulate.

You will always need to show that your permanent residence is in the US.  You will need to be prepared to show that you have not abandoned your permanent residence in the US.

The immigration service will take into account:

  • the length of your absence from the US
  • the purpose of your departure
  • the existence of facts indicating a fixed termination date for the stay abroad
  • the continued filing of U.S. tax returns as a resident of the U.S.
  • the maintenance of other ties with the U.S., such as ownership of property, bank accounts, credit cards, driver’s license
  • the location of your close family members
  • the location and nature of your employment

You should maintain records and document all of the above.


A permanent resident who has been abroad for a lengthy period is still required to file U.S. tax returns as a resident, even if he does not owe U.S. income taxes.  Failing to file a tax return may result in a loss of permanent resident status.

Note:  maintaining continuity of residence for naturalization purposes is a different issue from maintaining permanent residence status.  An absence of six months or more but less than one year breaks the continuity of the alien’s residence for naturalization purposes, unless the alien can give a reasonable explanation of the absence.

© Samia Chandraker 2014