There are a variety of situations in which people who hold legal permanent resident status in the U.S. choose to relinquish their status. Whatever may be the reason for abandoning a green card, the decision must not be taken lightly.
Permanent residents will need to maintain their status in the U.S. to remain a legal resident. If they are unable to maintain their status because they have to move to another country, they may abandon their status in the U.S. By voluntarily abandoning their status, they may not have complications at the U.S. port of entry when they attempt to enter the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa after giving up their legal resident status in the U.S.
How to abandon legal resident status in the U.S.?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that grants legal resident status to foreign nationals also lets them give up that status. Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status is the USCIS form that a legal resident needs to file to record abandonment of legal permanent residence.
Legal residents can file this form at a U.S. Embassy or a U.S. Consulate in their home country or mail the form to the respective embassy or consulate. There is no filing fee for this form. Applicants will be given a copy of the Form I-407 they filed after it has been processed. They can retain that form as evidence of relinquishment of their green card. They can carry with them this copy whenever they travel to the U.S.
This form requires personal information about the applicant such as their alien registration number, date of birth, country of birth, and mailing address. Applicants must provide the reason for abandoning their status in the U.S. and surrender their green cards.
Abandoning a green card is not a reversible process. Once a legal resident gives up his or her status in the U.S., they will lose all privileges that were granted to them as legal residents. They simply cannot change their mind and get their green cards back. They will not be able to work in the U.S. as a legal resident post giving up their status.
Why Green Card Holders Give Up Their Status?
Some green card holders give up their status in the U.S. to avoid paying taxes, while some do so because they receive a better job opportunity in another country. There may be many reasons for voluntary abandonment of a green card. Those giving up their green cards to avoid paying taxes as a U.S. legal resident can consult with a tax advisor before they give up their green cards as abandonment is not a reversible process.
In most cases, green card holders involuntarily abandon their status in the U.S., which happens when they stay abroad for an extended time period. For example, if a green card holder remains abroad for a year or more and has no ties in the U.S., he or she is more likely to lose their status. When the resident attempts to enter the U.S. after their extended abroad trip, immigration officers at the port of entry will determine whether or not they have abandoned their status in the U.S. If the legal resident is found to have abandoned his or her status involuntarily, the immigration officer at the port of entry would confiscate the green card. However, the final ruling will be made by an immigration judge.
Some foreign nationals get a green card without understanding its actual meaning and purpose. Getting a resident card in the U.S. means the individual has been granted the right to remain in the country and work here on a permanent basis. But some get the card and spend more time abroad. They work abroad and have no intention to be a permanent resident of the U.S. They fail to realize the significance of the status granted to them. They simply think they can use the green card to visit the U.S. for business or holiday.
Such people will more likely lose their status in the U.S. Green cards are for those who want to live the rest of their lives in the U.S., making it their permanent home. It is not for someone who simply wants to visit the country few times a year. Those who want to simply visit the U.S. can get temporary visas and not a green card.
These individuals who get a green card just to visit the U.S. occasionally are likely to face questions about their residency when they attempt to travel back to the U.S. with their green cards. Such individuals will be considered to have abandoned their status in the U.S. and made another country their permanent home. Immigration officers will consider that they have given up their green cards and will not allow such individuals to get back to the U.S.
But not all green card holders who travel abroad will lose their status in the U.S. Some may have to travel abroad for an extended time period for reasons such as visiting a sick family member or for some other reason. In such cases, legal residents can get re-entry permits before they travel abroad or obtain a returning resident visa. These travel documents will help them prove that they do not intend to make the foreign country their home but wish to remain in the U.S. as a legal resident.
Giving up a green card will not make an individual ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa in the future. To travel to the U.S. after giving up their green cards, they can get nonimmigrant visas. Likewise, abandoning a green card will also not bar them from gaining this status later. If they want to become legal residents again, they will have to qualify for it and apply for a green card again. They will have to go through the entire process that they went through initially, to get their green cards.