Can I stay more than 6 months outside the U.S with a green card

Travelling has to be among the top money-spending activities among the people of the U.S and it’s a well-known fact that traveling if not overdone can be very therapeutic. Who wouldn’t like taking a nice break from their hectic 9 to 5 job routine and go to a nice place for some days and just chill?


However, fun is not the only reason people travel for, some go-to places for work reasons and some might be traveling due to their health problems. Before you decide to take long trips anywhere, here’s everything you need to know about traveling outside the U.S for a period of 6 months and more.


It doesn’t matter if you are a permanent resident or a conditional permanent resident, you won’t be losing your green card if you travel anywhere and come back within 6 months, however, if your trip unexpectedly gets longer than that, you will be interrogated on your way back.

Reentry Permit:

If you’re planning to stay outside the U.S for more than a year and you don’t want to lose your green card, it’s advised that you apply for a reentry permit beforehand and then leave the country. Not applying for a re-entry permit will be considered as abandoning your permanent or conditional permanent residency.

The reentry permit stays valid for up to 2 years and cannot be extended for more than that. In the case of conditional permanent residents, your reentry will expire on the same date you’re obliged for the removal of the conditions.

How does it affect neutralization?

If you don’t have a reentry permit and don’t come back to the U.S for more than a year, the neutralization time period will be restarted and by restarting it’s meant that it takes 3 to 5 years to become a neutralized citizen and no matter how close you were in becoming one, your time elapsed will be put back to zero.

However, If you apply for a neutralization form (N-470), your time period elapsed in the country in order to become a neutralized citizen will not be nullified.

What happens in case of abandonment? 

In the case of abandonment, you will be facing a CBP officer at the airport and will be interrogated about your absence, now the burden of proof will be totally on your shoulders here. The CBP officer can then refer you to the concerning court for further interrogation.

It’s advised to get in touch with an attorney in case of abandonment because you’ll be asked a lot of questions and an attorney can help you prepare for these questions. The attorney will also help you decide which port should you choose for coming back and also what documents you need to present the officer at the airport upon interrogation.


The best practice when you’re traveling abroad and don’t know when exactly your return will be, apply for a reentry permit beforehand, you’ll not be worried about running into any issues regarding your green card no matter if you’re a permanent resident or a conditional permanent resident.


If you fail to apply for a reentry permit for some reason and fear that your neutralization time period will go back to zero, apply for the neutralization form as it will stop that from happening. In the case of abandonment, rely on having an attorney because that’s the safer approach to have and he will help you with all the right documents you need to present at the airport and will represent you at the court as well if required.