When people become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or green card holder, these residents will maintain their current status unless they apply for naturalization or they lose/abandon the status.
For individuals found guilty of intentionally abandoning their green card status, USCIS warns that the green card status may be taken away. There are several factors that can portray an intentional abandonment of green card status.
When evaluating an individual's circumstances, USCIS will look at the available evidence to reach their decision. These are some factors that USCIS considers:
- The individual has moved to another country and intends to live there permanently. In other words, USCIS does not tolerate people obtaining green cards while living outside the United States.
- The individual fails to file income tax returns while living outside of the United States for any period.
- Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your U.S. tax returns.
- Remain outside of the United States for an extended period of time, unless you intended this to be a temporary absence, as shown by some activities. (The reason stated for your absence/trip; How long the individual intended to be absent from the United States; Any other circumstances of your absence; Any events that may have prolonged your absence)
In the worst-case scenario where you are asked to surrender your green card after re-entering the United States, clients would be best advised to first hold onto their status. It is important to understand that time outside of the United States does not automatically constitute as abandoning your green card status.
Individuals in this predicament should remain calm and seek an experienced legal counsel with a background in immigration. All these individuals—even those who have left the country for some time—remain LPR until they are issued a final order of removal.
When people are undergoing the removal process, the government must prove that the abandonment of the green card is clear and unequivocal, backed by convincing evidence.
With your lawyer, the best step is to accumulate helpful evidence that demonstrates that your green card was not abandoned, or not abandoned intentionally. More specifically, these are some relevant evidence that can help your case:
- Evidence of one's ties to the United States. This may include organizations, memberships, family, property, etc.
- Explanation of one's purpose of traveling outside the U.S. Compelling explanations will add information so the consular officer can understand the entirety of the circumstances.
- Facts that may explain a later return date. Unexpected death, protests. Etc. are all uncontrollable events that may delay one's return.
At the end of the day, the evidence you and your lawyer accumulate will make or break your case. In the court of law, the evidence must show that the clients more likely than not (51% or more) did not abandon their green cards.
If the case is not compelling enough and the consular officer still believes the individual abandoned his or her green card, you should ask to see an immigration judge. This emphasizes the importance of finding the right evidence the first time and proving your intentions with the right legal team.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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