Common Green Card Questions Answered

    Green card holder refused admission to the US at the airport and told to sign Form I-407, Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence form by an Immigration official:

    As a green card holder (I-551)/LPR/Legal Permanent Resident, you should not automatically surrender your green card if told to do so by a Customs Border Protection officer, when you seek re-entry to the US. You should not sign the I-407 abandonment of your green card status until you speak to an immigration attorney. Refusal to sign form I-407 has no negative ramifications; however, if you do sign the form you are voluntarily agreeing to abandon your green card.


    If an officer states you have been outside the US for such a long time, that you have now abandoned your green card status, then show the officer your ties to the US (such as tax returns, bank statements, evidence of residence leased/owned) and that your “intent” was always to return to the US, which is your permanent residence. The legal standard you must meet is the preponderance of evidence standard, which is more likely than not at least 51% that you did not abandon your LPR status.


    How to preserve your green card/LPR/Legal Permanent Residence status if outside the US for over one-year:

    Both permanent residents and conditional residents (a green card is valid only for two years) can apply to preserve their status if they will be outside the US for one year or more. If you are going to be outside the US for any period over 180 days, then you should preserve your status, as on re-entry after being outside the US for over 180 days an officer can argue you have not maintained permanent residence in the US. There is a process to follow when preserving your green card status. You must file the petition with USCIS while you are physically inside the US and then request the approved re-entry permit be sent to the US consulate where you will be living when outside the US. You are permitted to request 2 years; therefore you can remain outside the US for a period of 2 years at which time re-enter under your green card status you have preserved.


    What options do I have if I have been outside the United States for more than one year and did not preserve my green card status?

    A green card holder (called lawful permanent resident or LPR) or conditional resident (CR) who has remained outside the U.S. for longer than one year, or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the U.S. and resume permanent residence.  Are there exceptions – Yes:

    You can apply at a US consulate for a returning resident (SB-1) immigrant visa due to circumstances beyond your control. This process involves filing documents with the consulate and attending up to two in-person interviews with a consular officer. If your application is approved, then you do not need to re-file for a new immigrant visa. Here are some requirements you must be able to prove:

    • Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the U.S.
    • Departed from the U.S. with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
    • Are returning to the U.S. from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.


    You can also seek re-admission at a port of entry such as an airport if you have remained outside the US for longer than one year. This process involves going through deferred inspection for an in-person interview with an immigration officer. Our firm has successfully helped clients outside the US for over four years to obtain their green cards.