Clients who are Green Card holders (i.e. permanent residents) frequently ask me about issues they need to be aware of when travelling internationally, outside of the United States.
Here are some things to consider to minimize the potential for problems at the border. After a long intercontinental flight, nobody wants to find themself in a position of being subjected to lengthy questioning by CBP officers at the airport.
Particularly in situations where the Green Card holder has spent significant time (more than 6 months, typically) outside the U.S., there are potential pitfalls one needs to be aware of — or risk losing the highly-prized Green Card.
CBP, interestingly enough, in its operations manual, has some good guidance on what immigration inspectors are to consider when inspecting Green Card residents seeking re-admission into the U.S.
The primary inspector shall admit a resident alien returning to an unrelinquished domicile, if not otherwise inadmissible under section 212(a), upon presentation of an unexpired Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), a reentry permit, refugee travel document (indicating lawful permanent residence), or temporary evidence of LPR status such as an Alien Documentation Identification and telecommunication (ADIT) stamp.
A returning resident alien is not required to present a valid passport for reentry into the U.S., although most will have one since a passport is often required for entry into a foreign country. When presented, the passport should be stamped, endorsed “ARC” or “R/P,” as appropriate, and, if not already written on the passport, the alien’s “A” number should be written on the page with the admission stamp.
Admission after prolonged absences.
A Lawful Permanent Resident who has been outside the United States for more than one year (two, if presenting a reentry permit), may have abandoned residence. Other indicators of possible abandonment of residence are employment abroad, immediate family members who are not permanent residents, arrival on a charter flight where most passengers are non-residents with return passage, lack of a fixed address in the U.S., or frequent prolonged absences from the United States. In questionable cases, it is appropriate for CBP to ask for other documentation to substantiate residence, such as driver’s licenses and employer identification cards.
Green Card holder without Green Card?
Ports-of-entry (POEs) encountering returning lawful permanent residents (LPR) lacking evidence of alien registration because said evidence has been secured at home or in a safety deposit box may offer a visa waiver pursuant to section 211(b) of the Act, with fee, or defer the inspection. If the LPR claims the card has been lost or stolen, the POE may accept a Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, with fee. These actions may be considered once the identity of the LPR has been confirmed, preferably by checking against the data contained in the CBP computer systems.
A LPR requesting a visa waiver must complete a Form I-193, Application for Waiver of Visa or Passport, if otherwise admissible. The applicant requesting the aiver is to review the information recorded on the printed form for accuracy and sign where indicated.
• If the waiver is approved, stamp the original Form I-193 and passport with an admission stamp and
endorse both with “211(b)”. Upon completion, the LPR is to be given a copy of the Form I-193 and be
admitted as a returning resident.
• If a waiver is denied under section 211(b) of the Act, the applicant may be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
CBP officers can also use something called “deferred inspection”. This is usually limited to a Green Card holder who:
• will be able to produce the requisite document within a few days; or,
• claims to have lost or had the Form I-551 stolen, is unable to pay the Form I-90 fee at the time of initial inspection and has not been previously deferred for presentation of the Form I-551 document.
The LPR will be required to file a Form I-90 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the next 30 days.
…to be continued in part 2.