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Maintaining Your Green Card

and Eligibility for Naturalization

While Working Overseas

NOTE:  This article is intended to be a brief summary of law only, parts of which may or MAY NOT be applicable to your situation.  While an effort is made to keep this info. up-to-date and accurate, this article was not written with your situation in mind and thus DOES NOT constitute legal advice.  Only an immigration attorney, one familiar with U.S. immigration law, should counsel you in this area.

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Even after an individual has made the decision to immigrate to another country, he/she maintains a strong connection with his/her country of birth.  In addition to the social (e.g., family, friends) and cultural (e.g., language, religion) ties that continue to bind immigrants with their former home, economic forces often a play a role in maintaining a bond, as well.  Immigrants to the U.S., for example, often find - a bit ironically, perhaps - that by immigrating to this country and attaining permanent residency via a green card here, they are suddenly better able to do business with local companies in their former home land.  In addition, such immigrants’ knowledge/expertise in matters pertaining to their native country/culture, combined with their real or perceived “American outlook” on life/business, can often make them valuable to U.S. companies seeking to do business abroad.

For these and other reasons, recent U.S. immigrants often find it desirable to work and live abroad for extended periods of time, even though they have no desire to give up or lose their status as U.S. permanent residents and future eligibility to become naturalized U.S. citizens.  For such future Americans, it is vitally important to fully understand and play by the rules established for how often and how long they can remain outside the U.S. without giving up their rights as green card holders.  What follows is a brief recitation of suggested methods you can employ to work overseas, at least part of the year, while maintaining your green card and continuous residence in the U.S. for naturalization purposes.  If you have any questions about this information, or about what role an immigration attorney can play in your situation, feel free to contact us today.

I.  To Maintain Your Green Card While Traveling, Living and/or Working Overseas:

 

Absolutely never be abroad for more than a year at a time!  If you remain out of the U.S. for a continuous period of a year or longer, there is a strong probability that border officials will not even allow you to re-enter the U.S., much less keep your green card, much less remain on track to attain citizenship!

II. To Maintain Continuous Residence While Abroad and Apply for U.S. Citizenship:

A.  Absolute Requirements to Avoid Problems:

1.   Intend to permanently reside in the U.S. (i.e., always declare that you intend to permanently reside in the U.S. when asked by a border official or questioned by an immigration document; of course, if you cannot honestly declare that you intend to permanently reside in the U.S., then you should not have a green card!);

2.   As stated in part I above, never stay abroad for more than a year at a time;

3.   Maintain five (5) years permanent residence in the U.S. (i.e., must be in U.S. 30 of 60 months); NOTE:  the period of continuous residence is shortened to 18 months for green card holders married to U.S. citizens.

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in this Document:

Maintaining Your Green Card While Overseas

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Maintaining Continuous U.S. Residence
While Overseas

Green Card Requirements

Green Card Suggestions

Green Card Misconceptions

v

A Sample Plan for Maintaining U.S. Permanent Residency While Overseas

v

Role of the
Immigration Attorney

See Also:

Green Card for Overseas Family Member

v

Forms Required

Permanent Residency - Spouse

Permanent Residency - Parent

v

Other Documents
Required for Green Card

Residency Status

U.S. Citizenship Status

Family Status

Marriage Status

Financial Qualifications

v

Costs of Applying for a Green Card

v

Where to File Green
Card Documents

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