For anyone wanting to immigrate to the United States, getting an investor Green Card (permanent residency) is one of the ways that this goal can be achieved.
One type of green card that some individuals can receive is a conditional green card, through either family ties or business investments. In either case, the conditional green card is valid for two years after the date of issuance and, to remain a permanent resident, the individual must file a petition to remove the conditional aspect within 90 days before the green card expires. The conditional green card cannot be renewed and is used only as a stepping stone to sustained permanent residency, hence it being referred to as ‘conditional’.
There are many misconceptions about the conditional green card, mainly due to a general lack of knowledge. For example, contrary to widespread belief, persons who have received a conditional green card can remain outside of the states for longer than six months without voiding their status. Investor-based conditional green cards are issued to persons who invest a certain amount into a US-based project or business. Rather than needing a family connection to apply for a green card, persons can instead choose to make investments in the US economy as a method of receiving a green card. Once an investment based conditional green card holder sustains their investment in the project chosen and generates the number of jobs promised initially, length of stay outside of the United States does not affect their status.
Where may this myth have come from? Lawyers often advise card holders to maintain a regular presence in the United States to indicate the intention to permanently reside within the US. However, failure to do so within the first two years of conditional status does not threaten a card holder’s status. The exceptions to this rule would be if a card holder does not show significant ties to the United States, such a permanent place of abode, a driver’s license, a bank account, etc. If the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has any indication that your ‘intended’ place of residence is outside of the United States, due to the failure to maintain the above recommendations, only then may your absence have your status called into question.
Realistically, if you are absent from the United States for over 180 days without establishing significant US ties before your departure, your intent to remain may be investigated further. However, planning with an immigration lawyer can help prevent possible backlash from your absence. If you are aware you will need to be outside of the US for longer than 180 days, it is advisable to apply for a re-entry permit while still in the United States. This document allows the investor and their family to re-enter the United States, usually without issue, once the conditional visa is still valid. Again, once a conditional green card holder has maintained appearances that they intend to make the United States their permanent place of residence, their status should not be affected by travel outside the United States.
When someone with a conditional green card comes back to the United States, they are not visiting the United States but returning to their country of residence. As such, it is important that the resident with the conditional green card make sure they have a permanent address in the United States, United States ID, and other forms of identification (including credit cards/debit cards).
While hiring a lawyer may help to prevent the card holder from falling outside of status while being absent from the United States, it is possible to still not meet certain standards (bank account closures, expired US identification, etc). Due to this, general advisement to conditional green card holders is to keep any visits outside of the United States limited to less than 180 days unless an immigration lawyer has been consulted.
Coming to the United States as an immigrant can be a lengthy process. However, hiring an immigration lawyer or immigration company and researching immigration procedures for your own knowledge can help simplify the process greatly. Often, simply by following the necessary steps throughout the green card process, a person can move from conditional status to permanent residency with little to no difficulties. Click here to schedule a call with us to find out more about the Investor Conditional Green Card!