As an immigration attorney, my goal is to help people get green cards and U.S. citizenship. One of the most important privileges that you gain with US citizenship is the right to file an immigration petition (Form I-130) for your mother and father. But before helping your parents get green cards, you need to think through this decision and weigh your immigration options carefully.
How to lose your green card status
Before you help your parents get green cards, keep in mind that when someone with a green card stops living in the United States, they lost their green card status. It’s called abandonment of residency. Once you’ve been given lawful permanent residency, you can’t definitively lose your status until an immigration judge conducts a formal hearing in Immigration Court and rules that you have abandoned your green card or residency status. To make this decision, the Immigration Judge will look at a variety of factors including whether you have worked in the U.S., filed income tax returns, and whether you have maintained an actual home in the U.S.
The 6-Month Rule–an immigration myth
Many people mistakenly think that someone with a green card can keep their immigration status by simply returning to the U.S. and touching U.S. soil once every 6 months. This persistent myth is not true.
Does this mean that someone with a green card is not permitted to travel outside the United States? Of course, not! But when a permanent resident travels abroad frequently or stays outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, the immigration officers at the airport may question whether the green card holder truly lives in the United States, as the immigration laws require.
Maybe a visitor’s visa is a better option than the green card
If your mother or father doesn’t really plan to move to the U.S. and live here permanently, the green card might not be suitable. In fact, without residency, the green card could turn out to be a source of future immigration trouble. If your parents just want to visit the US, you could spare yourself and them the hassle and expense of the immigration process and instead simply apply for a visitor’s visa at a local US consulate.
If you need more immigration advice or information, please email me or call my Boston immigration law office at 617-722-0005 and schedule a consultation.