Traveling Abroad can Present Risks to Green Card Holders
The primary goal of an EB-5 investment is permanent resident status for the investor and his or her family. When a foreign national obtains a Green Card and becomes a permanent resident of the United States, certain considerations must be made when traveling abroad.
If the government believes a lawful permanent resident (LPR) does not intend to permanently reside in the U.S., USCIS might determine that the LPR has abandoned his or her permanent resident status.
Maintaining Permanent Resident Status
In order for LPRs to maintain permanent resident status, their primary place of residence must be the U.S. As such, when they travel abroad, they must do so with an intent to return. When LPRs spend prolonged periods away from the U.S., USCIS might determine that they have abandoned their permanent resident status.
In general, LPRs may spend fewer than six months abroad within the span of a year. If away for longer than six months but less than one year, USCIS may ask for proof of intent to return to the U.S.
USCIS will suspect an LPR does not intend to permanently reside in the U.S. when time spent abroad exceeds one year. In such cases, intermittent visits to the U.S. will not likely be perceived as an intent to maintain permanent resident status.
Determining Intent to Return
When determining whether an LPR has abandoned his or her permanent resident status in the U.S., USCIS is largely concerned with the LPR’s intent. Any LPR who leaves the U.S. must have an intent to return and must be able to clearly demonstrate this intent.
USCIS may consider several factors to determine whether an LPR intends to return to the U.S. and continue living here permanently. These factors include but are not limited to the following:
- Historic travel patterns
- Family ties
- Business ties
- Property ownership
- Financial accounts and activity
- S. driver’s license status
Abandoning Permanent Resident Status
USCIS may determine that an LPR has abandoned his or her permanent resident status under a number of circumstances:
- The LPR has moved and clearly intends to permanently reside within another country.
- The LPR fails to file income tax returns while abroad or files as a non-immigrant
- The LPR spends more than one year abroad and fails to obtain a .
- The LPR remains abroad more than two years after being issued a Re-entry Permit and fails to obtain a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.
Note that USCIS may determine an LPR to have abandoned his or her permanent resident status for absences of any length, not only for absences greater than one year.