green card with airplane behind

Risks of Employment or Studying Overseas as a Lawful Permanent Resident

The design for lawful permanent residence is for beneficiaries of green cards to live and work in the United States. But what if a lucrative opportunity to work or study overseas arises? Normally, a permanent resident has the freedom to travel outside of the country, provided that his or her absence is temporary. Employment and studying opportunities abroad can be troublesome. Studying or working abroad as a green card holder can result in many immigration problems.

Any green card holder who lives outside of the U.S. for an extended period can become at risk of abandoning his or her permanent residence. Spending time outside of the U.S. is not a factor to take into consideration. Immigration officers will examine other key elements when determining the abandonment of a lawful permanent resident status.

Every lawful permanent resident seeking employment or furthering their studies out of the country is advised to visit with an immigration attorney for advice before leaving the country.

Some risks a lawful permanent resident might face leaving the country are:

  • Abandonment of immigration status
  • Violating Time-Based Rules and
  • Harming their Immigrant Intent

Abandonment of Immigration Status

The rules and regulations of abandonment are very clear. Although there are some time-related guidelines, abandonment can be triggered by spending more than 6 months outside the U.S.

Violating Time-Based Rules

As a general guideline, permanent residents should indeed avoid absences of more than 180 days. A trip of six months or more can distort the continuous residence stipulation for the purposes of becoming a U.S. citizen. However, it also raises the suspicion of abandonment of one’s status. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be quite inquisitive of permanent residents reentering the U.S. after a prolonged time away from the country. The CBP officers will want to know if the trip was temporary and it will want to understand the purpose of the intended travel.

Normally, a lawful permanent resident is deemed to have abandoned his or her immigration status if they were not present in the U.S. for one year or more. Upon arrival into the U.S., a CBP agent will immediately refer you to an immigration court for removal proceedings.

Harming Your Immigrant Intent

A permanent resident’s intent is also very important during absences from the U.S. Traveling abroad is deemed as temporary especially if you have established immigrant intent meaning that you will be living in the U.S. permanently. If you have no intentions in abandoning your residency in the U.S. you should have evidence. A CBP officer can ask any returning resident a sequence of questions. Some commonly asked questions but are not limited to are:

  • What was the purpose of your intended travel abroad?
  • How long did you intend to be away from the U.S.?
  • Were there any events during your trip that extended your stay beyond your initial travel plans?
  • Were there any factors that influenced the purpose or length of your travels?

See Your Nearest Immigration Attorney

If you recently obtained your U.S. lawful permanent resident status and you intend on seeking employment or furthering your education in another country, not the U.S., it is in your best interest to consult with an immigration attorney before proceeding. Gambacorta Law Office has seasoned immigration attorneys who can help you examine your options if any. Call us at (847) 443-9303 for a consultation or visit our website.