Does leaving the U.S. affect permanent residency?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a reader's question. Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

I am a permanent resident of the United States. I am 65 years old. I went to Peru because I had a family member who was very sick. I went to the U.S. consulate and they told me I could be out of the U.S. for 11 months. Will I have problems returning to the country? - Gloria Y.

Gloria, generally, a permanent resident of the United States may travel outside the country, but your stay cannot exceed more than one year. If you overstay this time you will have to apply for a returning resident visa at the U.S. Embassy in Peru in order to return to the U.S..

Assuming your current stay in Peru is less than one year, you should have no problems returning to the US. However, if you have had multiple prolonged or frequent absences from the country in the past, the customs officer may charge that you have abandoned your U.S. permanent resident status. In these cases, the customs officer may refer you to an immigration court for a judge to determine whether you have abandoned your permanent U.S. residency.

It is important to note that a reentry permit may be obtained to authorize a stay outside the U.S. for up to two years. This permit must be applied for before leaving the country.

The re-entry permit may be sent to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or a U.S. Department of Homeland Security office abroad for pickup by the person applying for the re-entry permit as long as this option was requested when the application was submitted.

If the person wishes to become a U.S. citizen, it is recommended that travel abroad should not exceed six months. This avoids a possible interruption of the period of continuous residence required for citizenship.

Please consult with an immigration attorney before beginning any immigration proceedings.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).