Can I maintain a green card while living outside the US? Yes, provided you only left the US temporarily with the intention to return. The general advice for keeping a green card in such a situation is to do as much as possible to make it look like you are maintaining ties to the US, such as keeping bank accounts in the US, filing US tax returns, maintaining US driver’s licenses, owning a house in the US (even if you rent it out), etc., and to have a good story ready about why you’re overseas and when you intend to return to the US (or at least what circumstances would trigger your return). There are people who keep their green card active for years this way. There are also special exceptions that apply to expatriate employees of certain American employers, as well as their spouses and children, provided that they have at least one year of continuous physical presence in the US before beginning their overseas assignment. A person in such a situation may need to file a Form N-470 with USCIS. Are there drawbacks to maintaining a green card while living outside the US? As long as you have a green card, you remain a US resident for tax purposes and your income from any country is taxable in the US. This may mean that you are required to file US tax returns every year (or, if you have an American spouse, include your income in a joint return with them). Due to the foreign tax credit and foreign earned income exclusion, there is typically little (if any) tax liability in the US unless you live in a low-tax jurisdiction or have locally tax-advantaged income. Should I get a re-entry permit? It is a must-have if you plan to stay outside the US for one continuous year, and also a good idea if you plan extended stays of less than a year outside the US. A re-entry permit is only good for two years, so you need to renew it every two years, and need to be physically inside the US each time you apply to renew it. If your green card or re-entry permit expires while you were outside the US due to circumstances beyond your control (which are not really specifically defined), you can apply for an SB-1 “returning resident” visa to restore your green card. This lets you skip the I-130 process but you still have to submit the visa application, do the medical examination and go to the interview again. Even if you get a re-entry permit, you are only allowed to keep your green card so long as US authorities are satisfied that you are outside the US temporarily and have the intention to return to the US. The re-entry permit basically just keeps your green card from being automatically cancelled if you leave the US for more than a year, and reduces the risk of immigration officials questioning you, but it doesn’t eliminate the residency requirements. Are there drawbacks to abandoning a green card? Will it affect my ability to return to the US later? It should have no impact on your ability to come back to the US, whether you do so on ESTA or a new visa. That said, while you have the green card, you are only supposed to leave the US temporarily with the intention to eventually return, so when abandoning the green card, or otherwise answering questions about your travel history to/from the US, you would want to keep your story straight so that nobody concludes that you were ever in the US unlawfully. The biggest practical issue is that if you ever decide to move back to the US, it can take a lot of time and money to get a new green card. CBP warned me that I have been outside the US for too long, and may need to get a re-entry permit. Most likely, the CBP officer made a note in your passport (where they stamped it) saying that they warned you about the residency requirements, which means the next time you go to the US, they may ask you more questions at the port of entry and possibly put you in removal (deportation) proceedings if they don’t like your explanation. Removal would permanently disqualify you from ESTA and add hurdles to any future visa applications, even if you just wanted to visit for a short stay. This means you need to tread carefully, and consider getting professional advice on whether and how to maintain your green card.