Posted by Debbie McGoldrick at 5/1/2009 11:07 AM EDT
Q: “I have a green card that I received in October of 2007. I am married to an American. I would like to return home to Ireland for the summer, and possibly until the end of the year or beginning of next. Would this in any way jeopardize my green card?”

A: Likely not, though if you’re married to an American and the marriage was less than two years old at the time you were issued permanent residence, you would have received it on a conditional basis for two years, which means that this fall, you’ll have to apply to remove the condition to make the card permanent.

This process can be done by mail, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) could call you and your husband for an interview, so that’s something you’ll need to bear in mind.

Make sure and apply to remove the condition in the 90 day period preceding the expiration of your current green card. Visit for complete details on the process for doing so.

Green card holders who leave the country for more than six months but less than a year could be questioned by a Customs and Border Patrol agent upon return; specifically, they could be asked to prove that a permanent residence was maintained here during the absence.

Though you are absolutely entitled to leave the U.S., your “base,” so to speak, must always be here.