USCIS Can Deny Green Card Renewal Applications for Excessive Time Abroad
Did you know that if you spend too much time outside of the United States, then United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can deny your green card renewal? It is true.
Our firm recently was contacted by someone who needed help because USCIS was on the verge of denying his request to renew his green card. The reason was because he had spent too much time abroad. If you are a green card holder (lawful permanent resident), it is important that you do what is necessary to avoid this difficult immigration situation.
In this article, we are going to discuss why USCIS takes issue with green card holders who spend excessive time abroad, and what you can do to avoid putting your green card status in jeopardy. If, after reading this article, you have more questions about travel abroad as a green card holder or renewing your green card in general, then we invite you to contact us at Ashoori Law. Feel free to call us at +1-818-741-1117 or you may schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.
The Intent to Reside in the United States Requirement
Many green card holders think that as long as their travel outside of the United States is for less than one year, and as long as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials allow them to re-enter the United States each time they travel, then they should be ok. That is not necessarily correct.
Just because U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows you back into the country does not necessarily mean that your green card will be renewed when it comes time for you to renew it with USCIS.
When USCIS evaluates your request to renew your green card, the agency looks for a very important piece of information – your intent to reside in the United States. Once you obtain a green card, you must continue to show that you have the intent to reside in the United States.
USCIS may view excessive absences from the United States as evidence of a break in your intent to reside in the U.S. USCIS, then, may take the position that your travel shows that you do not actually intend to reside in the United States. Accordingly, excessive absences could result in USCIS denying a renewal of your green card.
You worked hard to obtain your green card. You do not want to jeopardize your immigration status. So, there are a few things you can do to help avoid a scenario where USCIS comes to the conclusion that you have failed to comply with the intent to reside in the U.S. requirement.
How to Maintain the Intent to Reside in the U.S. Requirement
There are two main ways in which you can protect your status as a green card holder when it comes to travel abroad and the continuous residence requirement.
1. Reduce the Length of Time, or the Frequency, of Your Travel Abroad
If at all possible, it is highly advisable to avoid excessive travel outside of the U.S. Depending upon your family or work situation, you might find it difficult to change your current travel outside of the United States. Yet, if it is possible to limit trips abroad, or shorten your stay when you are abroad, then that would greatly improve the likelihood of USCIS believing that you intend to reside in the U.S.
2. Get a Reentry Permit
If you find that you are unable to avoid traveling for extended periods of time or unable to avoid frequent or excessive trips outside of the U.S., then consider obtaining a reentry permit. A reentry permit is a travel document that is similar to a passport. You can apply for a reentry permit with USCIS using Form I-131.
The reentry permit establishes that, when you travel, you do not intend to abandon your status as a U.S. lawful permanent resident (green card holder). In short, it helps protect your status as a green card holder when you travel. Be sure, however, to obtain the reentry permit before you travel. It is not possible to apply for a reentry permit while you are outside of the U.S.
Obtaining a green card in the United States takes time and commitment. You do not want to jeopardize your hard-won green card because you had a lengthy stay outside of the U.S., or because you needed to travel frequently. Be sure to follow the guidelines above and consider consulting with an experienced immigration attorney to make sure that you protect your green card status.
My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States. If you have any questions, feel free to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.
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Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.