Integrity Legal

13th April 2009

After a Thai Fiancee or Wife obtains lawful permanent residence (Green Card), it becomes necessary to keep this status preserved. Residence is “permanent” so long as the Thai Spouse complies with the rules inherent to permanent residence. One way that a Thai Wife may lose her lawful permanent resident status is if she spends long intervals of time in a country outside of the United States. Too much time spent outside of the United States can be construed as an intention to abandon one’s permanent residence (Green Card).  Since 9/11, United States immigration officers have started to highly analyze the amount of time a permanent resident spends outside of the United States. Even more than simply examining how much time one spends outside of the country, Immigration Officers now scrutinize the underlying reason for traveling at all. For this reason, preparations should be undertaken in advance if it is possible that a Permanent Resident will travel outside of the USA for a period of six months or more.

What is the Effect of Abandoning Permanent Residence?

There is no uniform rule that immigration officers utilize in determining if a Thai wife has abandoned her lawful permanent resident status. A Thai Wife’s “green card” can be employed as a legal entry permit if she has not been out of the United States for more than a year. That being said, simply going to the United once a year is definitely not sufficient to maintain a Thai Wife’s permanent resident status. Failure to be present in the United States for a period of six months or more raises the legal presumption that the immigrant has abandoned their U.S. residence. There are other aspects that will be looked at when deciding if an alien has abandoned their status: does the immigrant intend to depart the United States subsequent to the arrival at issue; does the international travel have a specified purpose and an ultimate end date; does the permanent resident pay taxes in the U.S. ; and does the resident have strong ties to the US: job, property, and other indicia of residence (e.g., driver’s license, bank accounts and credit cards, and active participation in the community).

When arriving in the USA after remaining outside of the country for a long period of time the resident should provide as much of the above evidence as possible and also be prepared to explain the reason for their absence from the United States. Someone who is unable to persuade the immigration officer that they have not abandoned their residence could be placed into removal proceedings and have their green card revoked pending the verdict in those proceedings. This situation could take many months to remedy if the situation can be remedied at all.

What is a Reentry Permit and What Benefit Does it Confer?

Reentry permits are similar to advance parole with regard to the fiance visa. Immigration officers at the port of entry are more inclined to respect those holding a Reentry Permit. By going through the application and obtainment process for a Reentry Permit, the Thai Permanent Resident in the USA is putting the U.S. Government on notice that it is a possibility that they will not be present in the United States for a duration of up to two years, and that they do not have any intention of abandoning their residence in the United States. The Reentry Permit application must be made while in the United States and even though it is not a necessity to wait in the USA for the permit’s issuance, the biometric scan is necessary and currently takes approximately 6-8 weeks to get an appointment after the application is filed.

For more information please see US Visa Thailand


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