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What happens if a green card holder stays outside of the U.S. beyond six months?

My parents are EB-5 green card holders. Due to personal reasons they have to stay in their home country for more than six months, but are planning to be back in less than a year. This long stay was unplanned so they did not get a permit before they left the United States. What kind of a risk does this situation pose when they travel back to reenter United States? Are there any documents that they can fill out or that they should carry? What should they expect to happen at Customs?

Answers

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An absence from the United States of more than six months raises a rebuttable presumption that the person has abandoned his or her permanent residency. A good reason is needed to rebut the presumption. An absence of one year or longer could be fatal to the green card status unless the person has serious medical or other issues that prevented him or her from reentering the United States. That person may have to apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate for a returning resident immigrant visa. The reentry permit is the preferred document to obtain BEFORE an extended absence (of up to two years) from the United States.

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    Kyle Barella

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    I would recommend speaking with a licensed U.S. immigration attorney. If a green card holder remains outside of the United States for an extended period of time without first obtaining permission (i.e. advance parole), they risk losing their permanent resident status when re-entering the United States. Advance parole can solve this problem, but it must be applied for while the applicant is physically present in the United States.

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    If they return within 12 months, they should generally be fine. A reentry permit is necessary for stays longer than one year. However, they should still have documents proving ties to the United States (residence, filing taxes, bank accounts, family members, job or business, etc.), and also establish their trip was unplanned and explain why (i.e. document reasons for a longer period of stay outside the United States).

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    To answer completely, all facts would need to be known. Make sure they pay U.S. taxes and keep up ties to the United States. Be prepared at the Port of Entry to demonstrate good reason for the longer trip and next time apply for a reentry permit before they leave.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    If a person left the United States for more than six months, but less than a year, there is a rebuttable presumption of abandonment of permanent residence in the United States. If your parents did not file for a re-entry permit prior to departing the United States for this trip, they may be questioned at the port of entry regarding the extended stay abroad. They will just need to show evidence that United States is still their residence, but due to circumstances, they needed to be absent at lengths, etc.

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    Irina Rostova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    As long as they enter before the one year anniversary of their departure, they should be allowed back in. They should carry documents to show that they have a connection to the United States (insurance, telephone numbers, card, apartment) and documents to show that their long trip was unplanned (medical records, etc.).

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Generally, any absence of over six months only breaks the continuity of residence; however immigration looks at this cumulatively over a period of several years. So today I was consulted on a case where the person has never been out more than six months, and they took the person's green card because they have never lived here and have not paid taxes here. I am fighting that one.

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    Jinhee Wilde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    As long as they return within 12 months, they will be okay.

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