Abandonment of Residency

How to Preserve Your Lawful Permanent Residency

How Do I Maintain my Lawful Permanent Residency?

When traveling abroad in lawful permanent residency (LPR) status, it is helpful to keep in mind what immigration officials are looking for in evaluating abandonment of residency cases. The official is looking to make sure that your ‘home’ is, in fact, in the U.S. and not abroad. In making that determination, they will look at the duration of your trip abroad and your ties to the United States.

What Is an Immigration Official Looking for In an Abandonment Case?

  • Intended Duration of Trip Abroad: When you left the country, did you intend to leave for a year? Or did you go abroad and something happened that led to your protracted stay (death of a family member, natural disaster, etc…).
  • Intent to ReturnAtDeparture: Another thing that will be evaluated upon your return to the U.S. is whether, upon your departure, you intended to return to the U.S. Did you pack up all of your worldly belongings when you left? Did you terminate your employment and take a job abroad?
  • Intent to Return While Abroad: They’ll also evaluate whether you maintained your intention to return to the U.S., while abroad.

With this in mind, there are several ways to protect your residency:

  • Duration of Trips Abroad: Keep your trips abroad under 180 days. Traveling abroad for 180-365 days is a grey area; however, to be safe, re-enter the U.S. before 180 days. Additionally, returning to the United States once every six months, during an extended absence, will not prevent a finding of abandonment of residency.
  • Tax Returns: Be sure to file your tax returns as a resident every year.
  • U.S. Employer: Maintain a U.S. employer, if possible.
  • U.S. Residence: Maintain a U.S. residence if possible, including the payment of utilities, property taxes, and other costs associated with maintaining a residence.
  • Children in School: Keep your children enrolled in a U.S. school, if possible.
  • Evidence of Pre-Determined Return Date: Evidence that your trip abroad has a pre-determined end date. Examples include the end of an employment contract, end of a school semester, expected graduation date, medical treatment end date.
  • Evidence of Property Ownership: Any proof of property ownership in the U.S. may indicate that you intended to return to the United States. Examples include bank accounts, cars, furnishing, retirement accounts, credit cards and home(s).

With the above in mind, some things may indicate that an individual intended to move abroad:

  • Frequent Absences: Frequently leaving the United States may suggest that you ‘reside’ abroad.
  • Extended Absences: Leaving for extended periods, especially frequently, may indicate that you ‘reside’ abroad.
  • Family Abroad: If all of your close family members live abroad (spouse, children, parents), that may indicate that you reside abroad.
  • Selling of property and assets: If you sold or liquidated all of your assets before departing the U.S. for an extended period, that may indicate that you were relocating.

If you are a lawful permanent resident and wish to apply for a re-entry permit or believe that you are in danger of abandoning your residency, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in cases involving re-entry permits, extended absences from the United States, and complex naturalization cases. Please call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!