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What to do if you are a Legal Permanent Resident and you have to travel abroad and stay abroad for more than one year

THE LAW AND YOU

WRITTEN BY: Narisara P. Jongjarearn -Tasanont, Attorney at Law

Hello readers!!!  Today I will discuss what to do if you are a Legal Permanent Resident and you have to travel abroad and stay abroad for more than one year and the consequences that can follow.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (a green card holder) and you plan to travel abroad for 6 months or more, you should apply for a re-entry permit. If granted, this document can help you maintain your status as a legal permanent resident upon return to the United States.  Travel abroad for more than 6 months without it can be considered as abandonment of legal permanent status and can lead to very serious consequences.  However, it must be noted that a re-entry permit does not guarantee admission back into the United States.  People using re-entry permits are still subject to the inspection process at the port of entry.

The re-entry permit is usually valid for 2 years from the date of issuance and it should be applied for prior to departure from the United States.  If the immigration does not issue the re-entry permit and your time abroad is approaching 6 months, you should immediately return to the United States to avoid any problems connected with staying out of the United States for more than 6 months at a time.

Another important note is that once a re-entry permit is issued and it is used to stay abroad for more than one year, that action will break the continuous residency requirement for becoming a U.S. citizen.  Thus, if you are a green card holder and you have had your green card for 10 years and then you request a re-entry permit and you use it to stay in Thailand for more than 1 year, then you will lose the 10 years you have accumulated as a green card holder for citizenship purposes.  So upon your return from Thailand, if you wish to apply for U.S. citizenship, you will not meet the requirement of having your green card for at least 4 years and 9 months, even if you have had your green card for 10 years.  The use of the re-entry permit to stay abroad for more than 1 year, will lead you to have to wait 4 years and 1 day after your return from aboard in order to apply for citizenship.

If you are an alien with a pending application for adjustment of status, you must apply for advance parole prior to your departure if you wish to depart the United States.  But note that there are severe consequences if you are in the United States illegally and leave with an advance parole.  If an alien here illegally with an adjustment of status case pending applies for advance parole and leaves the United States, that alien may be deemed inadmissible upon his/her return and his/her application for adjustment may be denied.

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, any alien who departs the United States after being unlawfully present in the United States for more than more than 180 may be barred from admission, even with advance parole.  So any alien who is unlawfully present in the United States and then departs the United States will be barred from admission for 3 years if the period of unlawful presence was more than 180 days but less than 1 year.  Any alien will be barred from admission for 10 years if the period of unlawful presence in the United States is for more than 1 year.

Furthermore, just like with the re-entry permits, advance parole does not guarantee admission into the United States.  Individuals with advance parole are still subject to immigration inspection at the port of entry as well.

Anyone who is a green card holder and needs a re-entry permit to stay outside of the United States for more than 6 months please come and see me for assistance.  I would  be happy to assist you regarding this matter or any other of your immigration needs.  Please call 323-704-6355 or 323 664-7131 to get more information.

Narisara P. Jongjarearn-Tasanont works out of her law office in Los Angeles. She is also the Executive Director of the Thai American Citizens Alliance.  She is an active member of the State Bar of California and the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association.  You can contact her at 323-664-7131 or  323-704-6355 with your immigration questions.  The contents of this article are not intended as individualized legal advice.

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