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Traveling outside the US as permanent resident requires planning

More than likely you made Texas your home and waited a long time to become a permanent resident of the United States. Considering the current climate regarding immigration, you jealously guard your status. Now, you have the chance to travel outside the country whether it's for vacation, work or to visit family.

Not surprisingly, you probably fear that once you leave the country, you may not be able to return. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has procedures in place to allow you to come back into the country, and it would be in your best interests to make sure that you follow them closely so as not to jeopardize your permanent residency or path to citizenship.

You can leave the country as a permanent resident

Permanent residents can leave the country temporarily for brief travel. However, if the government determines that you never intended to remain here, then you could lose your permanent residency. A primary factor in making that determination is whether you remain out of the country for a year or more. If you need to leave for that long or longer but wish to maintain your status as a permanent resident, you must take additional steps.

Before you leave, obtain a permit for re-entry. With this permit, you can apply to come back into the country as long as the permit is still valid when you do. You will still have to meet the admissibility requirements again, and no one can guarantee your return. However, the permit helps authorities understand that you intend to retain your immigration status. You will not need to obtain another visa, which could speed things up for you.

If your stay outside the country will last two years or more, you will probably lose your permanent resident status. You should probably know that any trip longer than six months could jeopardize your status. You can file for an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes prior to leaving the country. Whether you need a re-entry permit or this application, you should factor in enough time to receive approval before going anywhere.

Getting out is easier than getting back in

In order to leave the country, you only need to make sure you have your passport and any other documentation needed to legally enter the country to which you are traveling. When you attempt to return to the U.S., you must go through a legal port of entry and provide the required documentation. This would be your green card, your foreign passport and any other related documents required by authorities.

If you lose your paperwork, things only get more complicated, so diligently protect your status by protecting your documents. You may be able to apply for new documents to replace the ones that were lost or stolen, but again, you receive no guarantees.

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