If you stay outside of the country for more than 6 months, or leave for long periods of time and only coming to the US for very short amounts of time, and you are a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States, you run the risked of being charged with abandonment of your green card and it can be taken away. The following are what can happen at the airport or port of entry:
- Be admitted. If you are very lucky, and the immigration officer is having a good day, you may get admitted through, but the officer will give you a hard time for the time spent outside of the US. With this, count your blessings and make plans to stay in the US for longer than 6 months.
- B1/B2 visa but sign to give up Green Card. Oftentimes the immigration officer will ask you to sign the I-407 in exchange for allowing you to enter the U.S. on a B1/B2 visa which is simply a visitor’s visa. When faced with the possibility of being turned away at the airport, many people will jump at this opportunity out of fear. The I-407 is the document that will allow you to voluntary abandon your green card. Unless you have a good alternative to re file your immigrant visa, it is never advisable to sign the form. The signing of the form is prima facie evidence that you have chosen to give up your green card voluntarily. With that being said, you can still challenge any abandonment before an immigration judge. But take note; the task gets much more difficult!
- See an Immigration Judge. You are allowed to enter the U.S. as an arriving alien and you are placed before an Immigration Judge to contest the charge of green card abandonment: If this happens, you will retain your status as a green card holder or permanent resident of the United States until the Immigration Judge makes a finding that you are no longer a permanent resident. You will be allowed to work and live in the U.S. However, you must attend at the Immigration Court before the Judge on the date given to you on your Notice to Appear to argue why your green card was not abandoned and further why it should not be taken away. This is no small feat. You will have to present persuasive arguments and documentation to the judge that demonstrates that you had absolutely no intention to abandon your green card, even though you may have stayed outside of the U.S. for a period longer than 6 months.
In any case, if your green card has been taken by an immigration officer at the airport or other port of entry, consult a qualified immigration attorney immediately for help. Our law office can assess your situation and see how best to help you. Call us for a consultation. 770-612-3499.