To stick with a green card or move on?Getty Images/iStockphoto

“I lived the U.S. for eight years back in the mid-1990s. I was married to an American citizen at the time. The marriage was a disaster but I got a green card out of it. I never became a U.S. citizen, and I eventually returned home to Ireland. I have two children now, and one is a college student who would like to travel to the U.S. to live and work for a while.

“This is probably a silly question at this point, but is there any way I could reclaim my old green card to help my daughter become legal? I didn’t have a visa for part of the time when I lived in America and it was no fun. I wouldn’t want the same for my daughter.”

This is a question that pops up often enough, but the answer remains the same – your prior status as a permanent resident has expired at this point, and it is not reclaimable.

That’s why it’s always highly advisable for those with green cards to apply for naturalization at the earliest opportunity. Becoming a U.S. citizen allows for more options down the road, including the right to legally return here at any time, and potential benefits to children, including in some cases automatic U.S. citizenship for those born abroad.

You mention that your daughter is a student, so she’s definitely got some choices as far as U.S. visas go. There’s the summer J-1 visa program, which is always popular with Irish students who wish to spend the summer months here working. It’s a process to apply and there’s certainly a cost involved, but if the goal is to ensure that she’s working here legally then that’s one avenue to explore.

Those enrolled in an Irish college/university who plan on obtaining a degree can avail of the 12-month J-1 graduate visa which allows for Irish students to pursue paid internships with a U.S. employer. Again, there are several fees that are part of the program; student agencies like USIT in Ireland, which you’re surely aware of, would have further information.

Of course there’s nothing stopping your daughter from traveling to the U.S. for up to 90 days, as she’s entitled to do under the U.S. visa waiver program, but such visitors are prohibited from working here.