“Returning Residents”: Have you Abandoned your Status?

Attention “Returning Residents”:

Many U.S. lawful permanent residents travel freely to and from their home country, but beware: those who remain abroad for more than one (1) year without permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), are generally considered to have abandoned U.S. residency and are subject to loss of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status.

You will be stopped upon returning to the U.S. and questioned about your prolonged stay by a Border Patrol Officer. This officer will likely attempt to have you sign an abandonment of permanent residency form whereby you are admitting the abandonment. Everything you say will be evidence against you in removal proceedings that will soon after be initiated. It will then be up to an Immigration Judge to determine whether you have abandoned your residency. If so, you will be deported.

It is important to take the necessary steps prior to your return to the U.S. In order to return to the U.S. and resume residence there, the individual may find relief as a “Returning Resident” as defined in U.S. immigration law.

To qualify as a Returning Resident, the individual must demonstrate to a consular officer that he/she departed the U.S. with the intention of returning after a stay of less than one (1) year abroad, and his/her failure to return to the U.S. as planned must be shown to have been for reasons beyond his/her control.

There are factors that can be shown to prove the intention to maintain U.S. residence, such as:

  • property maintained in the U.S. and lack of residence in home country
  • continued tax filings in the U.S.
  • financial accounts maintained in the U.S.
  • proof of reasons for prolonged stay in home country

Please Note: Conditional Residents of the United States who fail to file an application to have their conditional resident status removed are required to apply for a new immigrant visa. They are not eligible to apply to return to the U.S. as a returning resident.

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