Helping families, couples and individuals with U.S. visa solutions and naturalization

The recent Executive Orders issued by President Trump have created very high levels uncertainty for so many immigrants, even those not from the seven countries subject to the current travel ban. The term “lawful permanent resident” seems like a permanent status but it now it is more important than ever for lawful permanent residents (LPR) to understand when they may be subject to removal from the U.S. for abandonment and how it may be avoided when traveling abroad.

For purposes of naturalization eligibility, temporary or brief travel usually does not affect permanent resident status; however, if Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determines that there is a need for further questioning upon re-entry, a secondary inspection at the port of entry is required. As a guideline, CBP is accustomed to asking for evidence of the lawful permanent resident’s status and ties to the U.S. from the traveler. This information can be hard for the returning lawful permanent resident to provide if not prepared ahead of time. Lawful permanent residents may find it helpful to travel with the following documentation: proof of family ties in the U.S., current employment in the U.S., recent income tax return (if filing as a U.S. resident), club memberships, property and/or lease. CBP’s consideration does not need to be limited to these factors and no one factor is necessarily more important than any other.

Although only a judge may make an abandonment finding, CBP may have a separate belief that the lawful permanent resident has abandoned his or her residence and try to have the lawful permanent resident sign a statement to relinquish permanent residence, Form I-407, and leave the U.S. CBP may consider any length of absence from the United States, even if less than 180 days. Please consult with your attorney if you believe you will be living and/or working outside the United States for any period of time.

If you are a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for a reentry permit prior to your departure so that the length of your absence abroad cannot be used as a factor in your abandonment. A re-entry permit does not preclude a finding of abandonment. If a lawful permanent resident visa is outside the U.S. for one year, a re-entry permit or returning visa will be needed for entry. A re-entry permit is valid for two years. There is no limit on the number of times an applicant can apply for a re-entry permit.

When re-entering the U.S. after brief international travel, a valid, unexpired “green card” (Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card) is needed. If a green card is not available, the lawful permanent resident must have a I-551 or CR-1 stamp in his/her passport to show proof of lawful permanent residence. For information pertaining to entry into the United States, see U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s web page at www.cbp.gov.