Abandonment of Green Card

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) must understand that abandoning their LPR status makes them ineligible for naturalization. Naturalization is contingent upon an individual maintaining their LPR status, among other requirements. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can consider any signs of abandonment during the naturalization assessment. We review the possible abandonment of LPR status here.

Abandonment of LPR Status: What is it?

LPR status is deemed abandoned if an individual manifests an intention to relinquish residency in the U.S. after departure. Moreover, a parent’s decision to abandon LPR status can also affect their minor child. Although LPRs can travel internationally, certain trip characteristics might be interpreted as LPR abandonment.

If an applicant reenters the U.S. after supposed abandonment, even if wrongly allowed, they remain ineligible for naturalization. This is attributed to the failure to uphold the continuous residence requirement and the condition of being lawfully readmitted for permanent residence. In scenarios where USCIS determines abandonment, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) starts removal proceedings. Only after a final removal order by an immigration judge does an individual lose their LPR status.

Factors in Determining Abandonment of LPR Status

For a conclusive decision on LPR abandonment, USCIS looks into multiple elements:

  1. Length of Absences from the United States: Extended durations away can challenge the LPR’s intent to return, making it harder to demonstrate a commitment to U.S. residence. Regular, short visits do not necessarily preserve the LPR status.
  2. Purpose of Travel Outside the U.S.: Travel reasons, be it vacations or attending to sick family members, play a part in the abandonment determination.
  3. Intent to Return as an LPR: The main component is the manifested intent to reside permanently in the U.S., which should be consistent throughout the travel duration.
  4. Continued Ties to the U.S.: Links to the U.S., such as tax returns, property ownership, business affiliations, and familial connections, are indicators of intent to maintain a permanent residence.

USCIS scrutinizes these factors holistically. For instance, obtaining a reentry permit might indicate intent, but it’s not an automatic safeguard. Similarly, not obtaining one doesn’t necessarily imply abandonment.

Connections outside the U.S., voting in foreign elections, or claiming “nonresident alien” status for tax benefits can be seen as signals of abandonment. Nevertheless, individuals can contest these assumptions with concrete evidence of their intent to remain LPRs.

In Conclusion

To determine LPR status maintenance, USCIS reviews naturalization applications, and supporting documents, and can request additional evidence. Timely response to such requests is paramount; otherwise, it can result in a naturalization application denial.

Abandonment of LPR status is a nuanced area in immigration law. By understanding the various determinants and the evidence required, LPRs can navigate the naturalization process more effectively.

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