CBP Updates for Traveling with Green Cards

209301_passport.jpgCustoms and Border Protection (CBP), the agency responsible for admitting travelers and residents to the U.S., recently answered questions regarding international travel for lawful permanent residents (LPRs). This question and answer session was conducted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

As an experienced Silicon Valley Immigration Attorney, I know that long and/or multiple periods of international travel can create serious issues for some LPR clients. Typically, most LPRs do not encounter any delays or issues when returning to the U.S. after international travel, if their trip only lasted a few days or a couple of weeks. However, when an LPR begins to take multiple, prolonged trips outside the U.S., CBP can question whether the LPR has abandoned his/her permanent residency, and can even refuse to allow the LPR to re-enter the country or place the LPR in removal (deportation) proceedings.

At the question and answer session, the CBP explained that a CBP officer may put a returning LPR into removal proceedings if the officer thinks the LPR has abandoned his/her U.S. permanent residence - meaning that the officer thinks the LPR does not truly intend to live in the U.S. indefinitely. There is no hard-and-fast rule for determining abandonment, but in general if the LPR had been outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days, a CBP officer may suspect abandonment.

Of course, there may be circumstances which require an LPR to remain outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days, such as to take care of or visit an ailing relative, or to perform long-term work assignments. If an LPR knows that he/she will be out of the U.S. for a lengthy period, the LPR should take steps to preserve his/her permanent residency by maintaining proof of the LPR's intent to return and live in the U.S. after the trip abroad. The LPR can bring this proof to CBP upon returning to the country.

There are many types of evidence the LPR can compile in order to show intent to remain a U.S. permanent resident:

  • proof of property ownership in the U.S. (deed, lease, etc.)

  • proof of U.S. finances (stocks, bank accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, etc.)

  • proof of family members residing in the U.S. (school records for children, spouse's employment records, etc.)

  • proof of participation/membership in U.S. employment groups (professional associations, trade groups, etc.)

It is also a good idea to have proof of the LPR's need for the long international trip such as a letter from the employer confirming the lengthy work assignment. Additionally, it is very, very important for ALL LPRs to pay U.S. federal and state taxes every year, and to keep copies of tax payments.

In certain cases. it may be advisable for the LPR to obtain a Reentry Permit. Obtaining a Reentry Permit can help the LPR demonstrate to CBP that he/she did not intend to abandon the U.S. permanent residence. An LPR must apply for a Reentry Permit while the LPR is physically in the U.S. and the permit is normally valid for two years from the date of issuance.

The Gee Law Firm works diligently to provide superior customer service and results for our clients, at a reasonable price. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call us at 650-293-0270, or use our online contact form.

Additional Blog Posts:

Let's Put USCIS Forms in the Post Office, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, March 1, 2012
Employment-Based Green Card Waiting Times Explained by USCIS, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, September 29, 2009

Adjustment of Status / by Michelle Gee