Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status

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Before you pack your bags to travel abroad as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), make sure you fully understand abandonment issues that may arise.

What is Abandonment?

You may lose your status as green card holder if you intentionally abandon it or stay outside the country for a period exceeding 180 days.

What does this mean? This means that you may be placed in deportation proceedings.

There are no waivers for abandonment and it stays with you forever. However, you can re-immigrate to the US, if you are eligible.

When Would This Come Up?

Abandonment issues could arise when you are applying for naturalization (N-400) or when you are re-entering the US after a long trip abroad.

Who Decides Whether I’ve Abandoned My Permanent Residency Status?

Only an immigration judge can make a finding of abandonment. Therefore, you must be in removal proceedings to be found to have abandoned your permanent residency status.

Factors Considered in Deciding Whether You Have Abandoned Your Status

Some of the factors considered to deciding whether you have abandoned your status include:

·        Failing to file your tax returns while living abroad

·        Staying outside of the US for a long period of time

·        Intent to move abroad and live there permanently

·        Family and community ties to the US

·        Job status in the US

·        Community ties to the US

·        Property in the US

Travel Outside The US

The relevant law regarding travel outside the US provides as follows:

“An alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States shall not be regarded as seeking admission into the United States for purposes of the immigration laws unless the alien…has abandoned or relinquished that status OR…has been absent from the United States for a continuous period in excess of 180 days….”

The Department of Homeland Security’s regulation specifies the following evidence must be presented for an alien to qualify as a returning resident alien: 

·        The alien was a lawfully admitted permanent resident of the US at the time of


·        At the time of departure, the alien had the intention of returning to the US

·        While residing abroad, the alien did not abandon the intention to return to the US and

·        The alien is returning from a temporary residence abroad not to exceed 180 days, or if

         the stay was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond the alien’s control.

There is a re-entry permit (I-131) available if you are gone for more than a year but less than 2 years. Also, a returning resident visa (SB-1) is available if you are gone for more than 1 year or beyond the validity of your re-entry permit. But you may still be denied entry even if you have a re-entry permit or SB-1 visa.

Voluntary Abandonment

You also may voluntarily abandon your status as a green card holder. Some may wish to do so for tax or travel concerns or simply because they intend to permanently live abroad. Form I-407 is used to do this.

It is important to speak with an attorney regarding your options and concerns. Here at the Law Office of Marron Gebremeskel, PLLC we can review your specific immigration situation. Give us a call to discuss your case.

We are here to serve you.