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Maintenance of Permanent Resident Status


There are several ways that a United States permanent resident can jeopardize their permanent resident status. These issues include failure to maintain a residence in the United States, failure to properly file U.S. tax returns, and committing certain crimes.

Maintaining Residence in the United States

A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) must maintain a permanent residence in the United States, and also must maintain physical presence in the United States.

The key factors in maintaining permanent resident status are physical presence and a continuing intent to reside permanently in the U.S. A statement of intent is not sufficient evidence. Rather, USCIS will look at objective factors, including:

  • Physical presence in the U.S. and extended absences from the U.S.;
  • U.S. residence (Even at the home of a friend or relative, though continued ownership of U.S. property is best. If you own property, you may elect to rent it out while you are gone rather than sell it.);
  • U.S. bank and/or credit accounts;
  • Current U.S. driver’s license;
  • Club memberships; and
  • Family ties.

No one of the above factors is controlling, though you should maintain as many of them as is practical in your circumstances.

Extended Absences from the U.S.

As introduced above, your physical presence in the U.S. is a primary factor in determining whether you have maintained your permanent resident status. While an LPR will not automatically lose permanent residence based on absences from the U.S. for long periods of time, USCIS may examine the reasons for the absence as well as long-term plans in evaluating intent. Factors that USCIS will consider include: the length and purpose of the absence (e.g., working abroad for a U.S. employer, caring for an ill relative, or liquidating assets overseas may be seen as acceptable purposes); the person’s ties to the United States during the absence; and the person’s long-term intent to remain a resident of the United States. A person can risk losing permanent resident status by remaining outside the U.S. for more than six months in a one-year period.

Please keep in mind that living abroad while merely returning to the U.S. for brief visits will not be sufficient to maintain permanent resident status.

Maintaining LPR Status for Long Absences – Reentry Permit

If an LPR needs to leave the U.S. for more than six months on a single trip; or be outside the U.S. for more than six months in one year, there is an option to file for a Reentry Permit, which allows a person to maintain LPR status during long absences from the U.S.

In order to apply for a Reentry Permit, an applicant must be physically present in the U.S. at the time the application is filed to USCIS. Please note that the Reentry Permit application process requires that biometrics (fingerprints) be taken, and it can take a few weeks after the filing for USCIS to schedule a biometrics appointment, which can only be scheduled in the United States. Thus, it is important to apply for a Reentry Permit well before the planned date of departure. 

The Reentry Permit is typically valid for up to two years from the date of issuance. Please note that residence outside of the United States during the validity period of a Reentry Permit may delay eligibility for United States Citizenship.

Filing of U.S. Tax Returns

A lawful permanent resident is obligated to file a U.S. federal tax return (Form 1040) to report worldwide income to the IRS every year, even if he or she resides physically outside the United States and even if he or she is a taxpayer in a foreign jurisdiction.

The Internal Revenue Service provides tax guidance to Resident Aliens at this link.

We recommend that permanent residents consult with a qualified tax professional regarding their U.S. income tax obligations.

Criminal Convictions

Permanent resident status can be rescinded if a person is charged or convicted of certain crimes. It is important to be aware that criminal conduct, no matter how relatively minor, can have the potential to jeopardize permanent resident status. In the event of an arrest or a charge of criminal conduct, we recommend consulting with a criminal lawyer who is aware of the immigration implications of particular crimes. Please note that even pleas that result in a dismissal in some state criminal courts can be considered a conviction that could lead to removal under U.S. immigration law, and the mere act of admitting to committing the elements of certain crimes, even without a conviction, could also lead to removal under U.S. immigration law.


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