[25 May 2009: See here for updated information about maintaining US permanent residence]
How quickly one year passes! It's almost time for me to make my obligatory annual visit to the US to re-establish my US permanent residency status. Or as it's worded in officialese:
A permanent resident alien returning to the United States from a visit abroad of less than a year may apply for readmission by presenting an Alien Registration Receipt Card ("green card") to the immigration authorities at a port of entry.
[Returning Resident Alien Leaflet, U.S. Department of State]
Even more scary is how quickly the past ten years have gone by. My Australian passport has expired after ten years and it's time for me to renew it. I have discovered that by law, my new passport photo must be unsmiling. I gather that smiles cause problems with new face scanning technologies, where scanners in the airport try to match the faces with the passport photos. Maybe unsmiling passport photos are also a lot more realistic, especially considering how most people feel at the end of a long-haul flight.
So, I'm going to be visiting Hawaii between the 9th and 15th of September. Hawaii doesn't have the reputation of being a cheap destination, but it's the cheapest US destination for me to reach from Australia. It's weird to think that for the time being, I have to go Hawaii once a year, but I'm also looking forward to having a little break.