Studying or Working Outside of the United States as a Green Card Holder

May 4, 2017 | Permanent Residence

As a Miami immigration lawyer, I oftentimes field questions from individuals who have already acquired lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, but want to work or study abroad. Below are some frequently asked questions.

Can I keep my green card while working or studying outside of the United States?
Before accepting any such offer, you should consult with a Miami immigration lawyer. You can lose your LPR (Legal Permanent Resident) status if you “abandon” it. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has identified a number of ways you can be deemed to have abandoned your LPR status. One of these is moving to another country, intending to live there permanently. If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

I don’t intend to live in another country permanently; I intend to come back to the United States to live.
Unfortunately, what you intend to do matters less to USCIS than your actions. If you work or study abroad as a lawful permanent resident of the United States, this may jeopardize your status as a LPR. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

I am a Legal Permanent Resident who wants to work/study abroad for an extended period of time. What do I need to be aware of?
First, if you stay outside of the United States for an extended period (generally about a year), USCIS may consider you to have abandoned your LPR status. However, note that you may be deemed to have abandoned your status in a shorter time frame. Conversely, it is also possible for you to be gone longer without losing your status. If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

What will the USCIS consider when determining whether a person has “abandoned” their green card?
The USCIS will look at:

  • The reason for your travel outside the United States;
  • How long you intended to be absent from the country;
  • Events that may have extended your absence beyond the time originally intended; and
  • Any other circumstances surrounding your absence.

If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

What  else might USCIS look at to evaluate my intent to remain a lawful permanent resident (LPR)?
First, the connections you maintain in both the U.S. and whatever country you are visiting. For example, if you have a spouse and family remaining in the United States while you work or study abroad, this would suggest that you intend to return. So would maintaining your U.S. bank accounts, driver’s license, and any real estate you own here. Remember that the more you appear to be establishing ties to the country you are “visiting,” the more likely it is that USCIS will determine you do not intend to return. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

Should I continue filing United States tax returns?
In a word, yes. You should continue to file U.S. tax returns. However, be aware that declaring yourself a “nonimmigrant” on those returns could constitute abandonment of LPR status. Also, be aware that residing in a foreign country, even with the intent to return to the U.S., is likely to mean you will not have continually resided in the U.S. This may delay the process of your becoming a citizen. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

What other advice do you have for someone who wants to study/work outside of the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident?
You should exercise extreme caution. Your first move should be to consult a Miami immigration law attorney. A lawyer can, for example, help you obtain a re-entry permit from USCIS prior to your departure. If you are already outside the country, a Miami immigration lawyer can advise you regarding obtaining an SB-1 returning resident visa from the local U.S. consulate. Either a re-entry permit or returning resident visa will support (but not guarantee) a finding that you have not abandoned your LPR status. The best way to safeguard your status is to have a Miami immigration lawyer advising you and working on your behalf.

If you would like more information on deportation defense, obtaining  U.S. citizenship, or obtaining a green card, please contact Miami immigration lawyer The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at tmsilvalaw.com.