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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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In early 2004, Joe learns of a business opportunity in China that for him is too good to pass up.  Although he intends to become a U.S. citizen and make American his permanent home, he believes that he will be able to save a lot of money for his family during the next several years if he can somehow take advantage of the opportunity to work in China.

Of course, Joe cannot simply move back to China to live continuously for the next several years.  If he does so, he will certainly lose his green card and eligibility to become a U.S. citizen.  What Joe can do is draw up a plan for periodic, non-permanent trips to China, keeping in mind the rules and suggestions noted in Parts I. and II. above.  Joe’s immigration attorney drew up the following sample plan:

Joe Green’s Minimal Stays in the U.S. to Avoid Serious Difficulty

2002                         9 months          (~270 days)

2003                         12 months        (365 days)

2004                         6 months          (at least 183 days)

2005                         6 months          (at least 183 days)       

2006                         6 months          (at least 183 days)

2007 (through April)   4 months          (~120 days, but should probably be at least 183 as well!)

TOTAL                   43 months       (through April of 2007 for citizenship application purposes)

KEY:   Blue =   Mr. Green is in U.S.

            Red   =   Mr. Green is in China.

The above chart is an example of how Joe could minimize the number of round trips he makes to/from China, yet still maintain his green card and remain on track to U.S. citizenship without much difficulty.  If the above minimal requirements are met, the 43 months Joe will have spent in the U.S. during his 5-year continuous residency period will well meet the 30-month requirement.  Also, Joe will have resided in the U.S. for at least 183 days of each calendar year.  However, to be safe, he should also reside in the U.S. for at least 183 during 2007, the year his citizenship application is being processed.



Maintaining Your Green Card While Overseas


Maintaining Continuous U.S. Residence
While Overseas

Green Card Requirements

Green Card Suggestions

Green Card Misconceptions


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


Role of the
Immigration Attorney

See Also:

Green Card for Overseas Family Member


Forms Required

Permanent Residency - Spouse

Permanent Residency - Parent


Other Documents
Required for Green Card

Residency Status

U.S. Citizenship Status

Family Status

Marriage Status

Financial Qualifications


Costs of Applying for a Green Card


Where to File Green
Card Documents

Business Law Home

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