Are you a permanent resident who travels outside the US frequently and for long periods of time? If that’s true, you are running the risk of abandonment of your green card (permanent residence).
What is the risk of prolonged travel outside of the US in abandonment of your green card?
For trips that last between six months and one year, those trips create the presumption of abandonment of your green card. For trips longer than one year outside of the US your green card becomes invalid and you may not be able to come back.
What happens at passport control?
Border Patrol (CBP) officers have a lot of discretion and if they think that you’ve abandoned your green card, at your next trip they may serve you with a “Notice to Appear.” That will refer you to an Immigration court. Referring you to an Immigration judge starts the removal case against you. In removal proceedings, you will need to prove why you did not abandon your status.
People travel often thinking that by traveling frequently they are helping themselves by decreasing the risk of abandonment, but that is not true. Talk to an experienced immigration lawyer and find out what the risk is by traveling and in abandoning your green card.
If questions arise CBP may take you to a separate area for “secondary inspection.” That by itself is not an adverse action, but you may be at the secondary inspection room for as much as a few minutes to several hours or longer. AILA created a very helpful brochure, which you can use as a reference point. You can access the brochure here.
Know your rights if you are called into secondary inspection!
If you are detained by CBP in secondary inspection, you have the following rights:
• You can contact your consulate. The consulate can then contact a lawyer or your family.
• If you have a lawyer, you can contact your lawyer.
• You have the right to review all written statements.
• you may refuse to sign anything presented to you.
• CPB may search all your belongings – including your purse, bags, electronic devises, wallet, etc.
The question is if CBP will qualify you as a “returning resident,” which would be great because then it means you passed the test and they will admit you to the US.
However, if CBP labels you an “arriving alien” – that will be not such great news.
Arriving aliens are those who:
• Have abandoned their LPR status;
• Have been absent from the U.S. for more than 180 days in a row;
• Committed crimes after departing the U.S.;
• Departed the U.S. while your removal case is pending;
• Committed certain criminal offenses; or
• Are attempting to enter without inspection.
What does it legally mean being an “arriving alien” when evaluating risk of abandonment of green card?
You have a right to a Hearing before an Immigration Judge. If you are labeled an “arriving alien,” then you may be charged as removable from the United States. LPRs that are charged as removable have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge. Only an immigration judge can formally strip you off of your Permanent resident status.
Do not sign any documents presented to you by a CBP officer unless you have had a chance to review them with an attorney.
Contact us for a consultation today.