Once you receive your green card, you should familiarize yourself with the requirements for obtaining U.S. citizenship. One of these requirements is establishing continuous residence. If you spend too much time out of the U.S., you will hurt your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen. You must establish 5 years of continuous residence (or 3 years if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen), and absences of longer than 6 months may disrupt your residence.
If you are planning on being absent for more than 1 year, you should apply for a reentry permit before departing. But understand that a departure from the U.S. for this length of time is a disruption of continuous residence and will delay your eligibility for U.S. citizenship.
There are even more severe consequences for staying outside of the U.S. for lengthy periods of time. The government could charge you with abandonment of your residency and initiate removal proceedings. This often arises when someone is seeking re-entry after a long trip abroad. It may also come up when you apply for U.S. citizenship. If the government charges you with abandonment, you will be scheduled for a hearing with an immigration judge. Be aware that having a re-entry permit does not prevent a finding of abandonment.
In short, plan your trips abroad wisely. If you have a green card, you should be residing in the U.S. If you don’t want to live in the U.S., you can submit an I-407 to abandon your residency and then apply for a tourist visa.
By Patricia Cooper Esq.