How do I maintain my green card status with a minimal stay in US?

September 27, 2017

One may maintain one's green card with minimal stay in the U.S. by obtaining a re-entry permit. Keeping in mind that a green card is for residence in the U.S.

Lawful Permanent Residence "Green Card"

A green card, or permanent residence, allows an immigrant to live and work in the United States for the rest of his or her life. For many people, obtaining a green card is the first step in the road to U.S. citizenship. The most popular method of obtaining a green card is through employment sponsorship or family sponsorship. However, there are other ways to get a green card, including political asylum, investment visas, and diversity lotteries.

Residency Requirements

To maintain one's green card status one must intend to reside in the U.S. and be physically present in the U.S. While absences from the U.S. are permitted, those considering long absences from the U.S. of more than 5 months should consider obtaining a re-entry permit to preserve their residence. A re-entry permit must be obtained for absences of more than a year. Those taking absences of five months or more should also consider carrying evidence of maintaining a U.S. residence; even with a re-entry permit.

  • An absence of one year or more disrupts the continuity of residence.
  • An absence of 6 months to one year raises a presumption that the continuity of residence has been interrupted.
  • USCIS will also review applications where there a multiple absences of less than six months.

A person whose continuous period of residency has been broken will need to reapply four years and one day following the date of their return to the U.S. to reestablish residency.

U.S. Naturalization and Citizenship

For most clients, naturalization is the next step following obtaining a green card that allows them to live and work in the U.S. Naturalization is the complex process by which a foreign national can become a U.S. citizen. A person may apply for Citizenship by Naturalization if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Legal Status - The applicant must be present in the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or on Military Duty.
  2. Residence - Five years of continuous residency in the United States subsequent to LPR status and three months in the State where the citizenship application is filed.
  3. Presence - Must be physically present in the United States for at least one half of the 5 years residing in the U.S.
  4. Good Moral Character - Must be a person of good moral character for 5 years prior to the filing of the citizenship application up to the time of admission.
  5. Take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States
  6. Bear arms on the behalf of the U.S. when required by law
  7. Must demonstrate a knowledge of the English language, U.S. History, and Government
  8. Must not otherwise be barred as a subversive, a communist, a deserter, or in removal proceedings.

Get More Information

These are the general requirements, but some unique situations may require additional steps. For more information contact Litwin & Smith at (650) 588-7100 or visit our Green Cards & Naturalization page.