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How can I lose my green card? -- Abandonment

Earlier this week, our blog discussed how all the advantages extended to a green card holder -- the right to pursue work, legal protection at all levels, permanent residence, etc. -- are granted on a quid pro quo basis. Specifically, in exchange for these advantages, the green card holder is expected to do things like file income taxes, obey all laws and call the U.S. home, or risk the loss of their permanent resident status.

Having established how criminal convictions can result in the loss of a green card, today's post will take a closer look at how prolonged stays outside the U.S. can achieve the same result.

While there is nothing preventing a green card holder from visiting another country, problems can arise if this absence from the country goes on for months or even an entire year.

That's because there is a chance U.S. officials will view the prolonged absence as proof that the individual has intentionally abandoned their permanent resident status and made another country their new home.

Indeed, upon returning to the U.S. after a few months from a trip that was intended to be shorter, there's a chance the green card holder will need to explain everything from the reason for the trip and how long they intended to be absent to events that prolonged their absence and other extenuating circumstances. Because of this reality, experts indicate that green card holders should try to return within six months.

In the event the green card holder was outside the U.S. for at least a year and hadn't necessarily anticipated this happening, he or she will have to secure a special immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate abroad before attempting to return. Here, they will need to explain the circumstances to a consulate officer and convince them that they never intended to abandon their permanent resident status.

If, however, the green card holder was aware in advance that they would need to be outside the U.S. for over a year and secured a reentry permit enabling them to remain in a foreign nation for up to two years at a time, they should encounter little to no difficulty when returning.

It's important to note that those green card holders who remain outside the nation for anywhere from six months to over a year won't automatically see their status revoked, rather they will just need to be able to present a compelling argument as to why they didn't abandon their status and perhaps endure an inspection.

What all of this perhaps serves to underscore more than anything is that green card holders should strongly consider applying for U.S. citizenship as soon as possible, as it can help them avoid all of these issues. To learn more, consider consulting with a skilled legal professional.

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