Maintaining Lawful Permanent Residence Status
Permanent resident status is not automatically lost by a lengthy absence abroad, but an extended absence is one factor that is taken into account by the Immigration Service in judging the alien’s intentions. The key factor is the alien’s intentions, but a mere statement of intent to remain a U.S. resident is not controlling, rather, the Immigration Service will look at objective facts that indicate the alien’s intent.
The major factors that are analyzed in determining the alien’s intent include: · The length of the alien’s absence · The purpose for the alien’s departure · The existence of facts indicating a fixed termination date for the stay abroad · The continued filing of U.S. tax returns as a resident of the U.S. · The maintenance of other ties with the U.S., such as ownership of property, bank accounts, credit cards, driver’s license · The location of the alien’s close family members · The location and nature of the alien’s employment, e.g., U.S. v. foreign employer, permanent v. temporary employment abroad, fixed-term employment contract, etc.
ONE FACTOR THAT HAS NO BEARING ON THE ALIEN’S RETENTION OF LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENT STATUS IS A RETURN TRIP TO THE U.S. ONCE A YEAR FOR SEVERAL WEEKS.
Returning to the U.S. and using the green card once a year has no bearing on the question regarding whether the alien has maintained the intention to remain a U.S. permanent resident. Many aliens have lost resident status also because they did not maintain sufficient ties with the U.S. to indicate that they considered the U.S. their permanent home.
In all cases, the alien must continue to file U.S. tax returns as a resident to assure that permanent resident status is not lost. The alien must, therefore, file a resident tax return and claim his or her worldwide income on the return, even if he or she can exempt most of this income from taxation. Failure to follow this rule is quite likely to lead to a loss of permanent resident status.