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Maintaining Green Card while Citizen Spouse is Studying Abroad

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Filed: Timeline

Hello! My wife has a green card but has been living with me while I have been studying abroad in the UK during a 9-month program. We had originally planed to be out of the country for less than a year, and to come back once in the middle to ensure that no stay abroad was greater than 180 days.

Unfortunately, the plans changed a bit while we were abroad. I was accepted to an internship in Geneva this summer, so now we will be returning exactly one year and one day after we originally left the country, and 195 days after our visit home for the weekend in February.

As we were not planning on being out of the country more than a year, she did not get a reentry permit prior to our travels. I still doubt that one is needed, as both stays abroad were less than a year.

The question is whether there are any problems we should be aware of when reentering. I have heard that when green card holders stay abroad over 180 days, they have the burden of proving that they did not intend to abandon their permanent residency. I have also heard that stays abroad over one year automatically trigger abandonment proceedings.

Considering that our most current stay abroad will be over 180 days, and that the entire trip is just over a year, will there be any problems? Will it just be a matter of proving to the immigration officer that my wife did not intend to abandon her permanent residency? If so, what documents should we bring along with us to prove that intent? As we have been living in student accommodation for quite a while, we haven't actually been maintaining an apartment in the States, although we did pay taxes using my parents' address, which we also use as the address for our US bank accounts.

Please let me know if there are any red flags in this account. It is possible to change her flight to come back earlier, but that would be costly and undesirable, as she would have to return to the States a few weeks earlier than me!

Thank you!


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To follow up with your other thread, you should be okay... you had two back-to-back six-month absences for a good reason. I would just bring with you proof of your program abroad. Good luck!

AOS for my husband
8/17/10: INTERVIEW DAY (day 123) APPROVED!!

5/23/12: Sent out package
2/06/13: APPROVED!

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