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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 by 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, as discussed below:

Extended Absences from the U.S.

The first factor USCIS will consider is physical presence in the U.S.  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 if he or she remains 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 on 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 Re-entry Permit well before the planned date of departure. 

The Re-entry 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.

According to the Internal Revenue Service:

“As a lawful permanent resident, your income is generally subject to tax in the same manner as a U.S. citizen. You must report all interest, dividends, wages, or other compensation for services, income from rental property or royalties, and other types of income on your U.S. tax return (Form 1040). You must report these amounts whether they are earned within or outside the United States. You should secure advice from a qualified CPA to understand all of your tax obligations.”

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, without a conviction, could also lead to removal under U.S. immigration law.

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