Maintiaing Permanent Resident Status
Permanent Residency (LPR or Greencard status) means that the United States is your permanent residence and home. However sometimes, circumstances beyond an individual's control causes the need for an extended stay outside of the United States.
Consider the following when planning long term travel:
1. By law your trip overseas should be less than one year.
2. If your trip will be for more than 1 year, apply for a Re-entry permit before departing the U.S. which will allow you to remain outside the United States for 2 years without losing your Permant Resident Status.
3. If you stayed outside the United States for more than 1 year or more than two years if you applied for a Re-entry permit, then you may be in a difficult situation. You have two possible options. Firstly, you can apply at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa. If you cannot meet the SB-1 requirments, then you may want to consider re-applying (starting over) for another immigrant visa if you qualify.
Burden of Proof for SB-1
In order to apply for a Returning Resident visa (SB-1), you will need to prove to the Consular Officer that you:
1. Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the U.S.;
2. Departed from the U.S. with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
3. Are returning to the U.S. from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.
1. A completed Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117
2. Your Permanent Resident Card, Form -551
3. Your Re-entry Permit, if available
4. Dates of travel outside of the U.S. (Examples: airline tickets, passport stamps, etc.)
5. Proof of your ties to the U.S. and your intention to return (Examples: tax returns, and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the U.S.)
6. Proof that your protracted stay outside of the U.S. was for reasons beyond your control (Examples: medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. company, accompanying a U.S. citizen spouse, etc.)