When you become a permanent resident of the United States, you are entitled to full citizenship rights. However, these rights can be called into question should you decide to leave the country for a trip abroad. When you return, you will have to show proof that you – while living in the US – acquired status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). This means providing the immigration department with valid documentation surrounding your citizenship status. You must have not relinquished your status while traveling abroad. It can be a tedious process, one where even presenting your green card may not be enough to prove that you have not, in fact, relinquished your LPR status.
Pertinent Questions that Will Be Asked
You can expect that you or your loved one, after returning from a trip abroad, will be subjected to several questions. The answers to the questions will determine the status of your LPR and may result in denied re-entry.
- Where are the immigrant’s primary ties? Do they have a family, job, property in the United States or is their primary residence and family ties located out of the country? In order to be granted re-entry, one who is claiming LPR status is expected to maintain a home, family ties and employment in the US. Holding property or employment in another country may result in denied re-entry.
- How long is the expected visit for the LPR? Are they returning home to stay after a brief visit out of the country, or is their visit to the US, in fact, a temporary one? When returning to the US, you must have the intention of remaining here, on a non-temporary basis, and have only gone abroad for personal or short-term employment purposes.
- What was the reason for leaving the US? Were they visiting family or friends outside of the country or did they leave to go work or live in their home country? Personal reasons are more likely to grant an LPR re-entry to the US rather than business or family matters. Visiting family outside of the US is perfectly acceptable but returning to your home country for an extended period of time to take care of family and working may be called into scrutiny.
- Do they plan to return to the US in a short time frame or will it be an extended visit? The expected duration in which you plan to remain in the US pending re-entry is one that is carefully taken into consideration. Simply returning to the US for a short time frame to visit family may not be significant enough to maintain LPR status.
- During their absence, did the immigrant file and pay their necessary taxes? All LPRs are required to file tax returns, even if they have a year where no taxes are due. Failure to do so or filing as a nonresident taxpayer or taking advantage of nonresident tax treaties is a strong indicator that the immigrant has not taken the proper steps to maintain their LPR status.
Failure to answer these questions in a manner consistent with LPR status may indeed result in denied re-entry and subsequent removal proceedings. If you have more questions about your LPR status and the reasons why it may be called into scrutiny, contact the experts at San Diego Immigration Law Center.