Immigration laws and regulations are nothing if not complex. As all migrants to the United States know, immigration law operates like a giant web of i
Immigration laws and regulations are nothing if not complex. As all migrants to the United States know, immigration law operates like a giant web of interconnected rules and stipulations. What’s more, the stakes—your own and your family’s home, investments, property, lifestyle, safety, and more—could not be higher.
Immigrants to the United States can and should feel comfortable traveling abroad, even on extensive trips. Becoming a U.S. immigrant doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy trips to your native country or elsewhere in the world. Here are eight tips for maintaining permanent U.S. residency during extended international travel.
Maintain a U.S. address, physical or virtual
One of the most crucial things you must do is maintain an American address the entire time you’re abroad. If you don’t own or rent a home, your next best option is to acquire a virtual address from providers like iPostal1.
The name “virtual address” may seem a bit confusing, but these are actual locations in the United States that you can use for official purposes. As a bonus, your virtual address can also intercept mail for you while you’re away.
Whenever you receive mail, an alert will appear on your phone or computer, and you can decide from there whether you’d like your mail shredded, scanned, stored, or forwarded. A virtual address is an excellent way to keep your proverbial boots on the ground while you’re traveling abroad.
Use U.S. banking institutions
Another critical step to take is to keep your U.S.-based banks and credit cards. It’s essential to not only keep the accounts open but active as well. Use them at least once every billing statement. You may want to plan ahead by opening accounts with low or no foreign transaction fees to save you money in the long run, or you can even take a travel credit card with you to kill two birds with one stone.
File income taxes in the United States
There is perhaps no more quintessentially American activity than paying your taxes. If you plan to return to the U.S., the government certainly wants its fair share of your income. More than that, though, continuing to fulfill your fiduciary obligation as a lawful American resident goes a long way in establishing your intention to return. It also shows how serious you are about contributing meaningfully to the country’s well-being.
Get a driver’s license
For migrants to the United States, a license does more than prove that you can drive. It’s also proof that you’re in the country legally, have a permanent address, and intend to remain.
Maintain personal and family ties
While it may not seem as though your personal life matters legally, it does to immigration officials. Maintaining ties to the United States shows that it’s your home. You have connections here, and the fact that you’ve kept up with them shows that you have no plans to leave them behind.
This step is especially helpful if you have family remaining in the states, but even if you don’t, keep in touch with your U.S.-based friends. Discuss the things you want to do with friends upon your return. Hopefully, you won’t have to use such anecdotal evidence to prove that you never intended to leave permanently, but in case you do, a paper trail can be your paper trail back into the country.
Professional and social memberships are another way to maintain your ties to the U.S. while traveling abroad. Look into joining an American association dedicated to your profession and remain as active as possible within it. Always pay membership dues for all organizations of which you’re a member while overseas.
Another step you can take is to sign up for English classes or take a U.S.-administered TOEFL exam. Learning a new language is challenging, and it can help showcase your commitment to living in the United States.
Keep working, if possible
Continuing to work for an American company powerfully demonstrates your ties to the country, making some of the other items on this list more manageable. You’ll naturally need to pay income taxes for American dollars earned. Sign up for direct deposit into your American bank account. Finally, maintain friendly ties with co-workers to strengthen your ties further.
Fill out the proper paperwork
Even before you depart, there are several forms you must fill out to maintain and protect your status as a legal immigrant, as well as forms for re-entry. With the changing nature of immigration law and the fact that it is a volatile political topic in the U.S., you must also be very careful to stay updated to policy changes.
If you’re still concerned or confused about traveling abroad safely as a U.S. immigrant, you may want to consult an immigration consultant or lawyer. Otherwise, follow these simple steps to maintain your United States resident status.