How To Maintain Primary Residence Status (Green Card) in the US

There are several independent rules with some exceptions that come into play to maintain U.S. Primary Residence Status (a Green Card).

Allan Scott Lolly

managing attorney

In case of any doubt, contact us before proceeding.

The Core Rules

  1. A green card holder must not remain outside the U.S. for more than one year without first obtaining a reentry permit before departure from the U.S. Even with a reentry permit, the permanent resident must not spend more than 2 years outside the U.S. Exceptions:
    • U.S. Government personnel (military and direct-hire civil service employees), their spouses and minor children who hold legal resident status in the United States may remain outside of the United States for the duration of an official overseas assignment plus four months without losing their immigrant status.
    • An emergency sometimes prevents the permanent resident from returning to the US within one year. In emergency situation, the foreigner must apply for revalidation of the green card at the nearest U.S. consulate abroad as soon as the emergency ends. Any delay beyond the emergency will defeat the application.
  2. If you violate this basic rule, you should immediately contact our offices to examine options.
  3. A green card holder must generally spend less than 6 months outside the U.S. on any given trip abroad. A stay of more than 6 months can trigger interrogation at a U.S. port of entry by a Customs and Border Patrol officer.

Useful Tips

While outside the U.S., the green card holder must maintain residence in the U.S., generally the same residence.

If the foreigner gives up life in the U.S., then the green card can be confiscated. U.S. residence includes a place to live, and any other trappings such as bank accounts, maintaining contacts with family or friends, etc.

  • It helps if the green card holder will return to the same job in the U.S. after working abroad.
  • It also helps if the work overseas is for a fixed duration and not open-ended. Such things as changing addresses to a family member and other attempts at technical compliance will put the green card at risk.
  • If you’ve followed the rules above and are stopped at a U.S. border check, ask to be allowed into the U.S. to see a judge who will review the evidence and decide.

Call for Assistance — We will discuss your situation and how we may help. Consider professional immigration legal representation carefully before proceeding. Initial consultation is FREE.

Call Us for a Free Immigration Consultation / Case Assessment

1-888-483-0311

U.S. toll free

+1 212-483-0311

Outside U.S.

If you have an interest in working with us on case processing, please complete our free consultation form, and we'll give you personal attention.

Complete consultation form

    Request a Legal Evaluation

    Interested in working with us?

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    More About Our Immigration Law Firm

    To date, the immigration law firm of Allan S. Lolly & Assoc. P.C. has successfully obtained well over 15,000 K1 fiance visas, CR marriage visas, green cards, immigration bar waivers, VAWA benefits, Asylum benefits, and other family and employment visas.

    Read more about our immigration law firm