Originally Posted by AllezCat
As others have stated citizens don't have to return - don't lose citizenship.
But permanent residents do.
Maybe that is what you heard?
I was a perment resident and stayed out for years and had to start again.
Yes, my Russian wife is now a legal
permanent resident (LPR) of the USA, otherwise known as a "green card" holder. The basic idea of the "green card" is that you want to live and work inside the USA as a non-citizen. It follows that if you are not living inside the USA then you do not need a "green card."
- - So the rules are, basically, you can spend up to one year outside the USA without jeopardizing your "green card." If you need or want to be "outside" longer (up to 2 years), then you need to file a form to get "permission" to be able to return and retain your LPR status. If you stay outside more than two years then the "green card" is revoked and you have to start from the beginning to get a new one. There are a few exceptions for military service
and other unusual circumstances, but those are the basic rules for a "resident legal
- - After three years, if married to a US citizen, or 5 years otherwise, as a legal permanent resident, you can apply for "naturalization" and become a US citizen. Then you can live anywhere in or outside just the same as a person born in the USA.