A Warning to US Green Card Holders Spending Substantial Time outside the US – Time to Think About obtaining a Reentry Permit

With the increasing crackdown at airports around the US on green card holders who have spent prolonged periods of time outside the US, now is the time to consider obtaining a reentry permit. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) inspectors are becoming more aggressive in seeking to coerce individuals to abandon their permanent residence. They do this by proposing that the green card holder sign form I-407 — the form for relinquishing one’s status. “In exchange”, CBP offers to allow them to come into the United States for a visit.

If the person does not agree, there are usually one of two outcomes. The first possibility is that CBP will make a notation in the passport. This notation — such as “I-407 advised” or “I-407 recommended” — alerts the CBP inspector at the time of the next entry a) how long the person had been absent and b) that CBP advised or recommended that the person file an I-407. The second possibility is that CBP will take the green card and attempt to either a) have an immigration judge make a formal finding of abandonment or b) request USCIS to re-open and reconsider the original approval of the green card if a waiver was involved. Because the green card will be confiscated, the person may not be able to travel until his case is decided.

Coercion to get a person to “voluntarily” give up his green card is against CBP’s own rules. Besides filing a complaint, one way to avoid this coercion is to obtain a reentry permit. The reentry permit gives the US government advance notice of the person’s intention to stay outside the US for a protracted period of time — up to 2 years. By securing the reentry permit, CBP is much less likely to harass these individuals at airports. In addition, new reentry permits can be obtained after the 2 years elapses.

The reentry permit can be obtained relatively quickly — within 2–3 months usually. One does not need to remain in the US for the entire period. However, the applicant must be in the US at the time of filing and go through biometrics. Expedited biometrics can usually be done within 2 – 2 ½ weeks of filing the application.
To learn how we can help you deal with these problems, please contact us.