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 has been obtained before departing the U.S., 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 56KB)and description of fees is attached hereto (PDF 51KB). 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 should apply for a non-immigrant visa. You must relinquish your green card (with completed form I-407) (PDF-653KB) at the time of your non-immigrant visa application. For further information about nonimmigrant visas (temporary visas) you should visit the non-immigrant visa unit website.