Absence from the U.S.

Absences from the U.S. for permanent residents

If you are a legal permanent resident, you are expected to live in the United States. You can still travel abroad and spend extended periods outside the country, but you may need to take steps to establish the trip as a temporary absence.

Absences of more than 180 consecutive days

At the port of entry after you travel abroad, you may be asked to provide evidence that you have continuing ties to the United States and that you intend to continue living here. Documentation of your ongoing employment in the United States is generally sufficient evidence.

Absences of more than 365 consecutive days

You must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) before you leave the United States, or your permanent residence status will be considered abandoned. A re-entry permit enables you to be abroad for up to two years. Apply for a re-entry permit.

You will also be required to provide evidence that you have continuing ties to the United States and that you intend to continue living here. For example, documentation of your sabbatical and your ongoing employment in the United States is generally sufficient evidence.

Eligibility for U.S. citizenship

Eligibility for U.S. citizenship after permanent residence requires that you live in the United States for five continuous years, or three continuous years if you obtained permanent residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. If you are abroad for more than 365 days, this requirement starts over.

Here is an example: You are married to a U.S. citizen, so your requirement is three years. You live here for one year without leaving the country. Then you spend 13 months abroad. When you return, you must live here for three more years before you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen.

If your job requires you to go abroad for more than a year, your absence may still be able to count toward your residency requirement. Learn what you need to do.