I am from Pakistan and my age is around 25years old, my parents have been living in USA from last two years and they have green card but not citizenship. I applied for Immigration (as unmarried son) on behalf of my father. Now my parents want to come back Pakistan for at least 1 years, so I am bit concern about the time effect on my process and my parents citizenship process duration. My queries are following on behalf of this.

  • What exactly the maximum time duration to stay outside of US without permission(for green card holder)? I mean they can come to Pakistan for 5 months without any permission and this 5 months will not effects of duration of my process and their Citizenship? as this thread's answer suggest me that your parents have to get permission first to leave US for so long time but I am not sure how much time.

  • How and where to get Permission for leaving US for at least 1 year?

Need some authenticated answer on this because my parents want to move back Pakistan for at least one 1 year.

Thanks in advance.


2 Answers 2


The green card itself is only valid for re-entry after an absence of less than 1 year. If they need to return after an absence of more than 1 year, they should apply for a Re-entry Permit, with which they can return any time in the validity of the Re-entry Permit (which is valid for 2 years). Note that just having a document that is valid for entry doesn't mean you can come back. Regardless, you must also continue to maintain residence in the US in order to not lose permanent residency; and what constitutes having maintained residence is somewhat subjective and is up to the judgment of the immigration officer.

The other thing you mentioned is effect on their future naturalization, which is a separate issue from the keeping of permanent residency discussed above. Even if you did everything you were supposed to do to maintain residence and your permanent residency is still fine after a long absence of up to a year or more than a year, that doesn't mean it doesn't affect their timeline to naturalization. That's because naturalization under the 5-year rule requires "continuous residence" for the previous 5 years. An absence of between 6 months and 1 year is presumed to break "continuous residence", but it's possible to overcome this with strong evidence. An absence of more than 1 year definitely breaks "continuous residence" with no exceptions.


The problem is your statement, "for at least one year." Are they abandoning their U.S. residence? Will they continue to maintain a home in the United States? Pay rent? Not sublet? If they own, not rent out? Keep their U.S. phone number? Keep their automobile, if they own one? Make arrangements to get mail? Keep up all U.S. licenses? Mobile phones? Were they transferred to Pakistan by their employer on a definite term contract and will return afterwards? Take only a few suitcases to Pakistan leaving their household goods in the US? And of course, have proof of all of the above...

Or are they going "back home" to Pakistan; maybe they'll come back and maybe not. They sell any U.S. property, hire Bekins and ship everything to Lahore after selling the car, shutting off the gas and canceling the mobile phone and getting it unlocked because they're moving permanently overseas? (And yes, ICE can and does check these things)

If it's the former case, they are OK. If it's the latter, they will be considered to have abandoned their U.S. residency.

  • And in practice, of course, many cases will fall somewhere between the two examples, in which case there may be a disagreement between the immigrant and the government, and the immigrant may take the question to an immigration judge.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 20:07

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