What can I do to stay outside the US for more than 6 months?
The short answer is yes. But it depends how long you stayed outside the United States. If you stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more, then you are considered to have abandoned your green card. As a result, your green card becomes technically invalid for reentry into the US.
If you stay outside the U.S. for 6 months or more, then you may be considered to have abandoned your green card.
In any one of those two instances above, if you have been considered to have abandoned your green card status, then you may be referred to immigration court where you would have to prove that you did not intend to abandon your green card status.
However, there is something you can do to prevent abandoning your green card due to having stayed outside the U.S. for 6 months or more. You can file for a Re-entry Permit.
A Re-entry permit allows you to stay outside the U.S. for up to two years, thereby eliminating any consideration that you abandoned your green card. Essentially, the Re-entry permit establishes that you did not intend to abandon your green card status.
If you need to stay outside the U.S. for more than two years, then you will have to apply for a new re-entry permit prior to the expiration of your original re-entry permit. However, you cannot file for the re-entry permit while you are outside the U.S., but you do not have to wait in the U.S. while USCIS processes your application for re-entry permit as long as you have completed your biometrics (fingerprints, photo) in the U.S. In fact, the re-entry permit application allows you to choose a US Consulate or Embassy in the respective country where your re-entry permit can be sent so that you may pick it up from that consulate or embassy.
Note that you do not need a re-entry to leave the United States if you are only intending to remain outside the United State for less than 6 months.
If there is an emergency situation and you will require that your re-entry permit application processing be expedited, then you will have to file an expedite request with USCIS. The following limited situations may be considered situations where USCIS may expedite an application for re-entry permit:
Severe financial loss to company or person;
Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
Department of Defense or National Interest Situation (Note: The request must come from an official U.S. Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the Government.);
USCIS error; or
Compelling interest of USCIS.
Again, it is very important that you do not stay outside the U.S. for 6 months or more as doing so could cause you to lose your green card status. If you must stay outside the U.S. for 6 months or more, it is imperative to file for a re-entry permit prior to leaving the U.S.
For more information regarding this topic, please see the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/B5en.pdf
If you wish to file for a re-entry permit, please contact The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz at (248) 557-3645 for more information.