Important issues for green card holders to remember and consider when traveling

Customers with a green card (i.e. permanent residents) often ask me frequently about the issues they need to know when traveling internationally, outside of the United States.

Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce the possibility of problems at the border. After a long journey across the continents, no one wants to find themselves in a situation under prolonged interrogation by customs and border protection agency officers at the airport. Especially in cases where the green card holder has spent a lot of time (more than 6 months, usually) outside of the U.S., there are potential risks one needs to be aware of – or the risk of losing a valuable green card. Interestingly enough, in its Operations Manual, the Customs and Border Protection Agency, some good guidance on what immigration inspectors should consider when examining green card residents seeking to re-enter the United States

Acceptance in general The Customs and Border Protection officer must accept a resident alien returning to a non-assigning home, if not unacceptable, when submitting an expired green card (I-551), re-entry permit, travel document for refugees (indicating legitimate permanent residence), or Temporary proof of an LPR such as Travel Statmp (or ADIT stamp).

The returning resident foreigner is not required to present a valid passport to re-enter the United States, although most of them will have a passport, since the passport is often required to enter a foreign country. When submitting a passport, the passport is usually marked “ARC”, and the foreigner must have an “A” number on the page with the admission stamp.

Acceptance after a long absence The green card holder, who has been outside the United States for more than one year (two, if he presents a re-entry permit), may have the Customs and Border Protection office think he might have given up residency. Other indications of the possibility of abandonment of residence are:

(1) working abroad,

(2) The presence of immediate family members who are not permanent residents,

(3) Arrival on a chartered plane where most passengers are not residents with the return passage,

(4) Lack of a fixed address in the United States, or

(5) Repeated prolonged absence from the United States.

In doubtful cases, it is appropriate for the Customs and Border Protection office to request other documents to prove residence, such as driver’s licenses and employer ID cards.

Green card holder without the green card? LPR residents who lack evidence of foreigners’ registration because they were left at home or in a safety deposit box, may obtain a visa exemption from CBP, with fees, or postpone inspection to another local CBP office to the US resident’s home

If the LPR demands that the card be lost or stolen, the POE may accept Form I-90, application for permanent residence card replacement, with a fee. These procedures can be considered once the LPR has been confirmed, and it is preferable to verify the data contained in CBP computer systems.

The LPR requesting visa exemption must complete the Form I-193, the visa exemption application or passport, if otherwise acceptable. The applicant requesting the waiver must review the information recorded in the printed form to ensure its accuracy and signature wherever it indicates. If the assignment is approved, the LPR must be given a copy of the Form I-193 and accepted as a Returning Resident. If the waiver is rejected, the applicant may be placed in the removal procedures before the immigration judge.

Customs and Border Protection officers can also use something called “delayed examination”. This is usually limited to a green card or visa holder who:

o You will be able to produce the required document in a few days; or,

o Claiming that I-551 was lost or stolen, it was unable to pay the I-90 fee at the time of the initial examination and was not previously postponed to submit the I-551 form document.

LPR will be asked to submit an I-90 with USCIS over the next 30 days.

Conditional residents A conditional resident is generally accepted in the United States if he applies before the second anniversary of conditional admission. A conditional resident may also be acceptable if he or she has a boarding letter (or “transfer letter”) from a US consulate, is stationed overseas on government orders, or is the husband or son of a person residing abroad under government orders. Otherwise, the applicant for admission as a conditional resident must have submitted a joint petition or waiver request, or Form I-751 (Marriage Based Issues) or Form I-829 (Investment Based Cases), in the United States within 90 two days before From the second anniversary, but not more than 6 months before submitting the application.

Once the I-751 is submitted, the applicant will receive a receipt (I-797 Business Notice) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department, extending the condition of the conditional stay for another year, which allows travel.

In the absence of any of these conditions, the inspector may postpone the applicant to submit the Form I-751 or I-829 if there is reason to believe that the service will agree to a petition or waiver. If the applicant is not admissible, the Customs and Border Protection Office has the authority to place him in the deportation procedure.

“Meaningful departure” question When examining a green card holder who has spent a lot of time abroad (usually more than six months), when there is a question about whether an LPR has abandoned his / her stay in the United States, the Customs and Border Inspector should assess the case and make an LPR intention determination The nature and cause of the long absence from the United States. Prior to 1997, if a permanent legal resident was believed to be unacceptable, then immigration inspectors must first decide whether his absence / boycott is “materially impaired” for permanent residence. Subsequent revisions to immigration laws gave the status of a “test” for immigration inspectors to apply in this case. Under this test, the permanent resident is not considered legal if he seeks admission, unless the foreigner:

o I gave up or abandoned this situation;

o consistently absent for more than 180 days;

o Engaged in illegal activity after leaving the United States;

o has left under legal procedure to seek removal;

o He committed some criminal offense;

o attempting to enter without inspection; or

o Entered the United States without permission from the immigration official.

If the Customs and Border Protection Office believes that the LPR may be unacceptable or no longer entitled to legal permanent resident status, then the Customs and Border Protection Office should refer the alien to the removal procedures if the deferred examination is not appropriate.

Special rules for dependents of US service members The spouses and children of U.S. armed forces personnel, or civil servants of the United States government, are exempt from many of the regular requirements of returning residents. If the dependent is a conditional resident, and the conditional stay has ended, the Customs and Border Protection Office must accept the person and advise to submit Form I-751 within 90 days.