Skip to main content

Green cards allow non-U.S. citizens to live and work in the country as lawful permanent residents. However, if you remain outside of the United States for too long, you may lose your Green Card and all of the rights associated with it.

The law states that if a Green Card holder remains outside of the United States for one year and one day during any one trip, they are considered to have abandoned their residency and lose their Green Card and permanent resident status.

Re-Entry Is At Customs Officer Discretion

Any time a Green Card holder or even a U.S. Passport holder re-enters the United States after time spent abroad, they are essentially applying for admission to the country. Each time, the customs officer has discretion in whether or not to allow re-entry. This is true for trips of any length and type – short or long, business or pleasure.

When re-entering the country, you will be asked to present your Green Card and passport for inspection and will likely be asked some questions about your trip abroad as well as your life in the United States. These questions are asked to ascertain the strength of your connection to the United States. For example, Green Card holders who own property, have jobs, and bank accounts in the U.S. are generally viewed as having strong ties to the United States, which reinforces the officer’s perception that you are indeed living in the country. Green Card holders who do not have these same connections may be viewed as having weak connections to the country, and the officer may question whether or not they really do live in the U.S.

If the officer suspects you are not living in the country and have abandoned your U.S. residency, they may:

1. Take away your Green Card. If this happens, you may be asked to appear in an immigration court where you can present evidence of your strong ties to the U.S. to prove that you did not abandon your residency.

2. Give you a chance to surrender your Green Card. If this happens and you accept, you will be expected to return to your native country.

3. Give you a warning. If the officer believes that you are at risk of being denied entry due to extended absences from the United States, they may warn you that you need to remain in the U.S. more frequently but still allow you re-entry.

If you are running into trouble every time you attempt to re-enter the United States, it may be time to ask yourself whether you really need to have a Green Card. If you do want to retain your Green Card and permanent resident status, you can avoid trouble by living in the United States and simply vacationing abroad instead of maintaining dual residences here and abroad. If you are ready to give up your Green Card, you can surrender it at the local U.S. Embassy and apply for a B1 or B2 visa to accommodate your need to enter the United States.

Contact Orlando Immigration Attorney Gail Seeram To Navigate Green Card and Residency Questions 

We understand that residency and Green Card issues can be confusing and difficult to navigate. There are many rules and requirements to follow, and it is not always clear which of them applies to your situation.

The Law Offices of Gail Seeram is here to help you answer any of your immigration questions, including Green Card and permanent residency questions. Immigration attorney Gail Seeram has been helping families in all matters of immigration for over 20 years, was recently named 2020 Orlando Lawyer of the Year for Immigration Law by Orlando Magazine, and has been named Best Lawyer for Immigration Law from 2016-2020 by U.S. News & World Report & Orlando Magazine.

We offer free consultations, personalized service, and the attention of an attorney whose practice is dedicated solely to immigration law.

Call or text 407-292-7730, email, start a chat session at, or contact us on WhatsApp at 407-353-1363 to discuss your situation.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to view more videos on immigration topics!