Simply because you were granted Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) status does not mean that you are permanently a resident of the United States. There are several ways for a person to lose their LPR status. Abandoning your LPR status is one way for a person to become subject to deportation and placed in removal proceedings.
There are two situations where abandonment of LPR status generally arises: (1) when applying for naturalization or (2) when reentering the U.S. after a long trip abroad. When applying for naturalization, the applicant must disclose information regarding their residences of the past five years, all travels outside the United States, places of employment, and much more personal information. Providing this information, which is required, may lead the reviewing officers to believe that the applicant has abandoned their LPR status. Any extensive trips outside the U.S. could be found as abandoning LPR status, regardless of how long ago the trip was made.
The second scenario is when a person has left the U.S. and is attempting to re-enter. If a person is allowed entry into the U.S. after a long trip, it is usually because the LPR claimed to be a “special immigrant.” A “special immigrant” is admission into the United States after a temporary absence; however, the absence was not temporary, therefore, the person was inadmissible at the time of readmission. ICE would then charge a person with being inadmissible at the time of admission under INA § 237(a)(1)(A).
On the other hand, if a person is stopped at the border, several things may occur. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may request that the person signs a statement relinquishing their LPR status (an I-407) and leave the U.S. The other possibility is that the person will receive a Notice to Appear and be put into removal proceedings.
Once in removal proceedings, the government has the burden to prove that the person should be deported. Overall, abandonment is determined by a judge. Returning regularly to the U.S. does not ensure LPR status. Although there is no formula to determine if someone has abandoned their LPR status, there is a general standard to consider when a LPR leaves the U.S. These are sample factors concerning whether the LPR had an objective intent to return to the U.S. after a short trip abroad. Several factors include:
- Whether the LPR has family in the U.S. that s/he keeps regular contact
- Whether the LPR has a job in the U.S.
- Whether the LPR is filing tax returns
- Whether the LPR has community memberships in the U.S.
- Whether the LPR owns or rents property in the U.S. or in an outside country
Before you leave the United States or if you believe you have been out of the country too long, contact a qualified attorney to determine what options may be available for you.