In recent years, more US lawful permanent residents than ever before have abandoned their status, either through voluntary surrender of their Green Card or operation of the law. In this article, we will examine a number of ways in which US lawful permanent resident status can be lost, through both the affirmative action of the Green Card holder and involuntarily.

In What Ways Can US Lawful Permanent Resident Status Be Lost?

There are a number of ways in which US lawful permanent resident status may be lost including:

  1. Voluntary Surrender of a Green Card, by Invoking the I-407 Procedure

If desired, a US lawful permanent resident who wishes to voluntarily surrender their US lawful permanent resident status may do so by properly filing Form I-407.

The filing of Form I-407 is a monumental legal act, which may have future repercussions for the individual in question. As such, it is absolutely imperative that any individual contemplating voluntarily surrendering their Green Card seeks legal advice from a licensed US immigration attorney prior to taking any action. In addition, it is advisable for any individual contemplating such a move to seek advice from a CPA regarding the tax implications of voluntarily surrendering their Green Card.

  1. Absence from the US for a Period of More Than 1 Year

If a US lawful permanent resident remains outside the US for a period of more than 1 year, their Green Card may be considered invalid and their US lawful permanent resident status may be considered abandoned.

If you are a US lawful permanent resident who intends to depart the US for a period of 1 year or more, we would recommend that you contact us to seek advice on your proposed departure from the US – ideally prior to your departure from the US – so we can advise on your position and any steps which may be taken to safeguard your position and protect your US lawful permanent resident status, as far as possible.

Similarly, if you are a US lawful permanent resident who has been outside of the US for a period of 1 year or more, we would advise that you contact us as a matter of urgency in order to seek advice regarding your position.

  1. Absence from the US of Less Than 1 Year

An individual’s US lawful permanent resident status may be deemed abandoned if the Green Card holder lives and works abroad, even if they continue to return to the US every year. In these circumstances, US lawful permanent resident status may be deemed abandoned, on the basis that the Green Card holder in question is not “permanently resident” in the US, within the meaning of US immigration law.

It is important to note however that US residency will not be considered abandoned on the basis of temporary visits abroad. The US Government bears the burden of proving abandonment of US lawful permanent resident status, where  there is a colorable claim to returning resident status.

If you believe you are at risk of being considered to have abandoned your US lawful permanent resident status by virtue of an absence from the US of less than one year, we would advise that you seek advice from an attorney regarding your position, to ensure you maximize your chances of successfully maintaining your US lawful permanent resident status.

Why Would A Green Card Holder Choose to Voluntarily Surrender Their Green Card?

There are multiple reasons why a Green Card holder may choose to voluntarily surrender their US lawful permanent resident status. A Green Card holder may be subject to a change of circumstances, which necessitates their departure from the US. For example, a US lawful permanent resident might marry a British citizen and choose to relocate to the UK. In some cases, a US lawful permanent resident may choose to surrender their Green Card for tax reasons.

In any event, loss of US lawful permanent resident status, whether by voluntary surrender or operation of the law, may have tax consequences for the individual in question. In some cases, a US lawful permanent resident seeking to relinquish their status may be liable to pay a US “Exit Tax”, which is computed as though the taxpayer sold all of their assets before they expatriated and had to report the gain to the IRS. At present, net capital gains can be taxed at a rate in excess of 20%.

Therefore, anyone in this position would be well-advised to seek advice from a CPA regarding the consequences of voluntarily surrendering US lawful permanent status before taking any action.

Davies Legal Immigration

At Davies Legal Immigration, we offer advice and representation in connection with all immigrant and non-immigrant visa categories. We offer innovative immigration solutions, a competitive fixed fee service and undertake to keep you informed. Call now for more information about our services and for a free, no obligation quote.

Published: 11th May 2018