Congratulations! You got your “green card”! A very important thing to remember is that you are now a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. This means that you must reside in the US. What does “reside” mean? It’s different for everyone in terms of where someone owns property, where someone works, where a spouse or children live, where you hold your assets. However, for every Lawful Permanent Resident, it means that whatever you do with your life, most of your life is here in the US.
Some people think that there is a magic “6 month” rule that allows you to maintain your Lawful Permanent Resident status as long as you don’t leave the US for longer than 6 months at any time. Not true. Each time you enter the US, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) looks at how long you were last outside of the US and also how many recent trips you have taken outside the US, where you have gone, and how long you have stayed out of the US and/or inside any other particular countries. If the pattern of your trips suggests that you spend more time outside the US (even if not 6 months at a time), CBP may ask you what you were doing outside the US, where you work and where the company is located, where your spouse lives, where your children go to school. Remember, CBP can ask you just about anything and if you do not answer, or do not answer in a way that a “resident” of the US would, then you may be referred to an Immigration Judge to prove that you do in fact reside in the US. For example, an LPR owns a house on Cape Cod and another in London. That LPR works for a US-based company, but works remotely. The LPR’s spouse does not have immigration status in the US, works full-time, in-person for a bank in London. The LPR’s two children attend private school in London. The LPR visits the US every month for a long weekend and stays with his US citizen sister in her big house on Long Island, New York. Each summer, for two weeks, the LPR and his family stay in their house on Cape Cod, and the LPR rents out the house the resent of the summer. That LPR may not be able to prove that he “resides” in the US, even though he is present in the US much more frequently than every six months.
Another example: Your retired parents recently obtained their Lawful Permanent Resident status after staying with you for one year in the US. Your parents do not have jobs or property or assets in the US, but they own the home where your sister and her family lives, and in fact, your parents have lived in that home for the past 25 years. Now, your parents want to return to India to take care of your sister’s children full-time, permanently so that your sister and her spouse can work full-time. Your parents plan to come to the US for two weeks each December and each June, staying outside the US now more than 5 months and two weeks each time. After a year or so, this may be a pattern that will alert CBP to ask your parents questions about where they actually live. Our firm would advise your parents to come to the US much more frequently than twice a year for two weeks because this pattern seems more like a “tourist” than a “resident” of the US.
If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well. Call (617-272-7980) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.