A: As a “green card” holder you can freely travel outside the United States for up to six months at a time. If you are away longer than six months there is a presumption that you are intending to abandon U.S. residency. Thus, if you are not staying in the United States for at least 6 months out of the year, I recommend applying for a Re-entry Permit. A Re-entry Permit can be valid for up to two years and during its validity period you should not have any problems with your green card. However, depending on the length of your travel, your qualifications for U.S. citizenship may be effected.
Q: I am a foreign graduate student on an F-1 visa studying in a university in California. I will complete my first school year soon, and plan to travel to India for the summer. What documentation will I need to re-enter the United States?
A: You should bring your current I-20 document, all attendance records, updated transcripts, and class registration materials for the next semester.
Q: Our family of four has filed for immigration under Family Fourth Preference (F4). My brother is just over 21 years. I have heard that the laws have changed to allow sons and daughters to immigrate with their parents even if they are over 21 years. Is that true?
A: On Aug. 2, 2002, Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was signed into law to address the problems of minor children losing their eligibility for immigration benefits upon turning 21. However, because this body of law is very complex and subject to multiple interpretations, it is best to seek case-specific advice from an experienced immigration attorney.
Q: I got Advance Parole to travel based on my I-485. How long can I stay in India?
A: If you have no other immigration issues, generally you can travel for the duration of your advance parole period.
Q: I am 25, unmarried, and in India. My mother, a U.S. citizen, has petitioned for me and my priority date is March 16, 2002. When am I likely to get a green card?
A: Although this question is not easy to answer, you are looking at approximately four more years before becoming eligible for an immigrant visa. In your family category, cases that were filed in August 1998 are now being adjudicated.
James E. Root, Esq., manages an exclusive immigration law practice with two offices in L.A. and Orange counties. (888) ROOT-LAW.