September 27, 2022

Green card abandonment: What is it and how can you avoid it?

You have worked so hard to earn your right to live and work in the U.S permanently. You can now settle down and pursue your American dream. Maintaining this status is definitely going to be a top priority for the rest of your life. 

However, besides committing deportable crimes, did you know you can also lose your U.S residency right through abandonment? 

So what is abandonment?

One of the first lessons you should learn upon receiving your green card is that there is absolutely nothing “permanent” about permanent residency status. Once you receive your green card, you will be required to make the U.S your home to maintain your permanent resident status. This means that staying out of the U.S for an extended period of time may amount to abandonment of your residency status. 

To prove abandonment, you must have:

  • Moved to another country with the intent of living there permanently
  • Failed to file your income tax while living outside the United States for a certain time period
  • Lived outside the United States for an extended period
  • Declared yourself a non-immigrant while filing your tax returns
  • Voluntarily turned in your green card and filed Form I-407

So how long is too long

As a green card holder, you can freely travel in and out of the country. And staying outside the U.S for six months or less should not be a problem. However, it becomes a problem when your overseas trips become frequent or lengthy. Basically, staying outside the U.S for over a year can lead to the presumption that you have abandoned your residency status. 

Failing to adhere to the terms of your green card can cause problems. Knowing where to turn to for help when facing an abandonment charge or the revocation of your green card can help you defend yourself and protect your right to remain in the country.