Becoming a U.S. Permanent Resident of the United States is a very exciting accomplishment until you can’t find work, qualified affordable child care, or a close family member falls ill unexpectedly. These are a few of the reasons Permanent Residents often leave the United States for extensive periods of time despite the risk of abandoning their U.S. Permanent Resident Status.
Unfortunately, it is a myth that once a U.S. permanent resident you come back every six months there is no risk to being stripped of U.S. status by U.S. Customs Border & Patrol (“CBP”).
It’s important to note that the requirements to not lose one’s permanent resident status and the rules to apply eventually for Naturalization are very different. First, Permanent Residency requires a reentry permit, proof of continuous residence. Working with experienced immigration legal counsel is an essential step before relocating abroad for even for a short period of time.
Naturalization, on the other hand, requires consideration of an N-470 to preserve time counting towards citizenship and the guidelines are very strict to be eligible for Citizenship after extended travel abroad. It is encouraged to always apply for I-131 reentry permit. However, to apply for citizenship one must demonstrate the following:
1) Resided continuously in the United States for at least 5 as a lawful permanent Resident;
2) Have resided for at least 3 months in the State or USCIS District where residency is claimed before filing for Citizenship (N-400);
3)Have resided continuously in the United States from the date of filing N-400 up to the time of administration of the Oath of Allegiance and Be physically present in the United States for at least 21/2 years at the time of filing Form N-400.
To balance and ensure that U.S. Immigration laws are satisfied when traveling abroad, always consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who will explain the overlapping and independent issues between ‘not abandoning’ U.S. Permanent Status and becoming ‘disqualified from’ applying for Naturalization Citizenship.