Anyone living in Seattle as a lawful permanent resident of the United States can use their green card as a way to prove their citizenship status. However, it takes more than just a green card to pursue travel outside of the U.S, transition into becoming a naturalized citizen or maintain your current status. Depending on your unique circumstance, your option for naturalization or permanent resident status can be compromised if you choose to leave the United States for an extended period.
Though maintaining naturalization is different than extending a permanent resident status, they do have similar factors in common. Maintaining a permanent status as a U.S. resident can be a challenge for individuals, or their families, who have not pursued it before. The process can often require dedicated legal counsel from an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure that the important aspects are covered.
Reentry Permits and Extended Absences
Any individual who plans to leave the United States for longer than a year is required to ensure that their permanent residency status is maintained in order to reenter the country. Although most circumstances involving an extended departure from the United States do not mean that your permanent residence status will disappear, USCIS does take that absence from the country into account when determining whether to abandon or continue your status by determining your intentions. They base their decision on certain factors that include:
- Reasons for travel
- Length of an absence
- Fixed travel dates associated with your trip
- Tax returns filed as a resident alien
- Existing property, licenses, memberships, and bank accounts
- Where your family is located
- Where you are employed
Those traveling abroad for more than a year are required to obtain reentry permits to enter the country once their time overseas is completed. The application process for a reentry permit must be completed in the United States and requires all residents to complete a biometric appointment that catalogs their fingerprints and photographs prior to departure from the country. The permit is then mailed to a U.S. address, but it can also be collected from a U.S. consular post or any overseas U.S. immigration office.
How to Preserve a Permanent Residency Status
Many individuals who have permanent residence in the United States are hoping to maintain it until they are eligible for naturalization. The qualifications for naturalization require that an individual and their family members meet certain requirements that include:
- Continuous residence in the U.S. for 5 years after obtaining lawful permanent residence
- This number is reduced to 3 years for spouses of U.S. citizens
- Maintaining a physical presence in the U.S. for at least 2.5 years
- This number is reduced to 1.5 years for spouses of U.S. citizens
These factors all have an impact on the potential for a permanent resident to achieve naturalization. Notably, any break in a person's residency within the United States may affect an individual's status and lead to complications when pursuing naturalization. Any extended stay or travel outside of the United States may require permanent residents to apply for benefits from USCIS that preserve the ongoing continuity of their residency status.
What to Do if Your Green Card is Expired or Lost
For those who hold green cards in the United States, their permanent residency cards are active and valid for ten years. At the end of those ten years, the green card itself expires and not the individual's status as a resident. However, it is necessary to apply for a new green card before the expiration of the one that the resident currently holds.
To reapply for a green card, or to replace a green card that has been lost or stolen, residents are encouraged to file a Form I-90 application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is essential for those who are planning to leave the country for an extended period if their green card is set to expire prior to their return.
Knowledgeable Immigration Lawyers in Seattle, Washington
Leaving the United States as a permanent resident can occasionally be necessary, especially if it is for a work-related or educational reason. However, ensuring that you are able to return to the U.S after you have completed your goals is a necessary part of arranging those travel plans. If you are looking for a way to maintain your ongoing status as a permanent resident of the United States, the experienced team of immigration lawyers at Orbit Law can help you and your family maintain their residency.
To find out more information or to speak with a reliable immigration lawyer in Seattle, call us at (206) 623-3352 or reach out online to schedule your consultation today.