A lawful permanent resident (LPR), also known as a green card holder, is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. An LPR will maintain status provided he/she maintains a bona fide domicile in the United States and does not remain outside the country for more than one year.
As a matter of law, unless an extension before departing the U.S has been obtained, a person who is outside the U.S. for more than one year loses their status as a legal permanent resident. It is not possible to obtain “an extension” of LPR status while outside of the U.S.
If a person is outside the US for more than one year for reasons outside of their control, and can prove they never intended to abandon their residence in the US, the person can apply as a “returning resident.” The required application (PDF 51KB)and description of fees is attached here to (PDF 58KB). If a person qualifies as a returning resident, that person may return to the US under the same status as the person had when he/ she left the US. The longer a person is outside the US, the more difficult it is to meet the standard as a returning resident.
If you do not qualify to apply as a returning resident, but you would like to become an LPR again, you can apply for another Immigrant visa provided that you qualify under any of the other Immigrant Visa types. Please click here for further information regarding the different Immigrant Visa Classifications.
However, if your intention is to travel to the US for tourism/ business, but not reside permanently, you may apply for a non-immigrant visa. You can relinquish your Lawful Permanent Resident Card by submitting it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using form I-407. Please note that the consular section no longer accepts form I-407, and you must mail the form directly to the USCIS as per the form instructions.