You came to the United States as an immigrant. You attained permanent resident status, though you have not become a citizen — at least not yet.
You know that this status can be revoked, so you’re careful not to do anything that might lead to deportation. You stay out of trouble with the law, focusing instead on working hard and providing for your family.
What could go wrong?
Then, you find out that one of your parents is sick in your home country. You’d like to go visit them and take care of them in their time of need. You just don’t know how long you’ll be gone. If you stay out of the U.S. for too long, are you going to lose your status?
Be aware of the 12-month limit
It is certainly possible to lose your status. Immigration laws revolve around the idea that those who are immigrants and who have been granted legal entry will then stay in the country. This doesn’t mean you can’t travel for a vacation or for work, just like anyone else in the U.S., but you do have to be conscious of the duration. The general rule is that you may lose your status if you do not return to the U.S. within 12 months.
There are ways to get around this. You can contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in advance and clear your trip. If you do lose your status, it is possible to apply for another visa and re-enter the United States. But you need to take all of the proper steps and you need to know exactly what legal requirements there are.