How much of the year must an EB-5 green card holder live in the United States?

As a general rule, individuals who have been granted lawful permanent resident (LPR) status should not travel outside of the United States for more than a year. Trips that last longer than a year can lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to conclude that the person has abandoned their LPR status. The key issue is the person’s intent to make the United States their permanent residence.

USCIS considers several factors when determining a person’s intent to permanently reside in the United States.

These include

  • maintaining property and business affiliations in the United States,
  • filing federal and state income taxes as a U.S. permanent resident, and
  • familial ties to the United States.

When traveling, it is the responsibility of the LPR to demonstrate intent to return and permanently reside in the United States. It is recommended that the individual apply for a re-entry permit before traveling outside of the United States. This will show USCIS the reason for the trip and an approximation of how long the individual will be abroad. This can help tremendously in demonstrating an intent to return within a reasonable timeframe.

The turnkey characteristic of the EB-5 investment program is the pathway to U.S. permanent resident status. Once an EB-5 investor’s Form I-526 petition is approved, they—and their qualifying family members—can relocate to the United States and enjoy the benefits of LPR status. However, their LPR status is on a conditional, two-year basis. During this time, the investor must keep their EB5 investment capital at risk, stay involved in the operations of the EB-5 project, and submit a Form I-829 petition to remove the conditions of their LPR status.

Given the gravity of the initial investment, which can often represent the entirety of a family’s life savings, it is in the best interest of the investor to acquire the help of an immigration attorney. This will allow them to have expert guidance throughout the EB-5 visa process, including when and for how long they can travel outside of the United States.