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Maintaining a Permanent Residence For Citizenship

A U.S. permanent resident needs to maintain the status until becoming a U.S. citizen.   Most people are eligible to apply for citizenship 4 years and 9 months after becoming residents.  Some, such as spouses of U.S. citizens, are eligible to apply for citizenship 2 years and 9 months after becoming permanent residents.

Generally, one can only lose resident status if convicted of certain types of crimes or if USCIS for some reason concludes that one has “abandoned” the U.S. as primary residence.  According to the USCIS website, an absence of any length without first obtaining a Reentry Permit may result in the loss of permanent residence.

Our general advice to clients who inquire how to maintain permanent residence for citizenship, even after moving outside the U.S., is:

  • Obtain a Reentry Permit if you plan to leave the U.S. for 4 months or longer, or if you plan to leave the U.S. repeatedly.
  • Apply for the Permit as soon as you know you’ll be traveling.  Since you will need to remain in the U.S. for some weeks after applying.
  • Never leave the U.S. for 6 months or longer on any one trip – always return to the U.S. in less than 6 months.
  • Maintain as much documentary evidence as possible of your U.S. “residence,”  such as filing all required tax returns, keeping bank and other financial accounts in the U.S., continuing to rent or own a home here, and keeping driver’s license or State ID current, etc.

All is not lost, just because someone is already residing outside the U.S., having left long ago with the intention to return.  On can obtain an SB-1 visa from an American Consulate abroad, specifically for an “immigrant, lawfully admitted for permanent residence, who is returning from a temporary visit abroad.”

Contact our immigration law office in Washington, D.C. today

Contact one of our experienced immigration attorneys at Morris H. Deutsch, Immigration Attorney if you would like to schedule a consultation on maintaining permanent residence.


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