Traveling Abroad Too Often Can Be Risky
Foreign investors participate in the EB-5 visa program to obtain U.S. green cards for themselves and their family. However, once becoming a permanent resident, green card holders must take certain precautions into account when traveling abroad. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCSIS) may nullify a green card holder’s permanent resident status if it believes the individual does not plan to reside in the U.S. permanently.
How to Maintain Permanent Resident Status
EB-5 green card holders must demonstrate to USCIS that they intend to reside in the U.S. long-term. Spending more than six months in one year abroad signals to USCIS that a green card holder might not consider the U.S. their primary place of residence, even if they are an EB-5 investor who poured $1.8 million or $900,000 into the U.S. economy. Occasionally visiting the US is not sufficient to maintain permanent resident status: One must truly live in the U.S. If a green card holder is abroad for more than six months but less than one year, USCIS often requests evidence to show that the permanent resident intends to come back and live in the US.
Intent to Return
An EB-5 green card holder who spends a significant amount of time abroad must clearly demonstrate to USCIS his or her intent to return to the US. To assess a permanent resident’s intent to return, USCIS considers, among other factors, the following:
- Relatives living in the US
- A business or job in the US
- Owned property in the US
- State driver’s license status
- Bank accounts and financial activity in the US
- Previous travel patterns of the permanent resident
Losing Permanent Resident Status
There are various pieces of evidence by which USCIS may judge a green card holder to have abandoned his or her permanent resident status:
- Evidence that the green card holder intends to permanently reside in a different country
- Failure of the green card holder to file U.S. income tax returns
- Application of the green card holder as a non-immigrant
- Failure of the green card holder to secure a re-entry permit after more than a year abroad
- Failure of the green card holder to file for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visaand return to the US after more than two years after receiving a re-entry permit
The above are merely guidelines, and actual USCIS decisions may differ depending on the circumstances. USCIS may deem an EB-5 green card holder to have abandoned his or her permanent resident status after less than one year abroad.