If you are a lawful permanent resident, leaving the country for a prolonged period of time can have major consequences. Many lawful permanent residents are shocked to learn that when they return to the United States they are treated as though they are requesting readmission. This means that their case must be assessed to determine whether they have abandoned their residency before a decision can be made about whether they are allowed to re-enter the country and resume their life here. This can be especially jarring for someone who has property, a career, or a family here. The good news is that if you have found yourself in this situation, there is still a good chance that everything will be okay.
Abandonment of one’s United States residency is grounds for cancellation of their permanent residency status. When someone leaves the country for an extended period of time, it causes immigration officials to inquire as to whether it constitutes abandonment. Generally, leaving the country for a period of 180 days can trigger this inquisition. However, generally, abandonment will not be found in cases where the individual was gone for less than a year.
It is important to understand though that the length of time that you were absent from the country is only one factor that is considered in determining whether you have abandoned your residency status. USCIS officials will also assess your initial intention in leaving the country, if you held a job or were employed overseas, if you own any property or a business in the United States, as well as the depth of your ties to the country and community. For instance, they will consider if you attended church, were involved in community activities, paid taxes, had a bank account, or maintained social ties with individuals from your community here in the United States. If you have immediate family members living as lawful permanent residents in the U.S. this will also weigh in favor of granting you re-admission.
On the other hand, if you worked for a foreign employer, voted in a foreign election, sold your property in the United States, or only have immediate family and strong social ties overseas, these factors will weigh in favor of a finding of abandonment and the cancellation of your permanent residency status.
It should also be noted that even if a lawful permanent resident is not absent from the United States for a long period of time continuously, brief trips back into the country will not be enough to negate a finding of abandonment if their ties to another country were stronger. For instance, if a lawful permanent resident was working and supporting a family overseas and was only intermittently returning to the U.S. for short visits, this will likely not be enough to overcome a presumption of abandonment.
If you are a lawful permanent resident whose status is in jeopardy, or you require assistance with any immigration-related legal matter, the experienced Chicago-based immigration attorneys at Sverdloff Law Group are ready to help. Contact Sverdloff Law Group today and schedule a consultation to find out how we will fight to get you the life that you want and deserve.