I obtained a green card two years ago because my daughter is a U.S. citizen. I usually visit the U.S. once every six months or so for a few weeks because most of my business activities still take place outside the country. This time, a Customs and Border Protection officer told me that I will need to apply for a reentry permit before I leave. What should I do?
If you were “advised” (or warned) to apply for a reentry permit (as the Customs and Border Protection or CBP officer probably marked in your passport), you are left with three options: either to comply with the warning, to discard the warning, or to voluntarily abandon your permanent resident status. (By way of background, realize that the very definition of a lawful permanent resident is someone who makes his or her home in the United States; it is not meant as a travel document.)
To comply with the warning, you will need to quickly file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS), while you are still present in the United States. Expect a receipt within less than two weeks, and (if you are under 79 years of age) an appointment notice for biometrics (fingerprints and photographs), which you should attend before leaving the country.
If you would like to file Form I-131 but you fear having to leave the U.S. too soon (perhaps because of a business emergency), you could request expedited processing.
Otherwise, you could discard the CBP officer’s warning and take your chances next time you travel to the United States. Your main option then would be to request that a CBP officer let you in at the border or airport for “good cause” (which may perhaps apply if you tried to obtain a reentry permit but were unable to do so because you had to leave on an emergency).
If your request is rejected, you will be given the choice to either appear before an immigration judge to argue that you have not really abandoned your permanent resident status or to voluntarily abandon your permanent resident status. (If you take the latter option, you may then be given the choice either to enter the country temporarily on a nonimmigrant status or to simply withdraw your application for admission. Neither choice should be used against you in the future.)
You may choose to abandon your permanent resident status for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you do not like paying U.S. taxes — although this should probably not serve as the main reason you indicate for abandoning your status. A better reason would be your inability to comply with the physical presence or residence requirement of the status. Voluntarily abandoning your green card on such a ground will not cause you any prejudice if you choose to reapply for the same status in the future. (Considering the basis of your eligibility, you should have no trouble reapplying.)
But remember that once you have abandoned your green card, there is no way to change your mind. So expect to have to restart the application process all over from the beginning.
If you decide to abandon your green card, try to do so in advance of your next trip to the United States. The best course of action would be to file Form I-407, Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status (available on the State Department’s website) at your local U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
After turning over your permanent resident card (unless it was lost or stolen), the form will be stamped and returned to you. You should carry it with your passport and (if applicable) your nonimmigrant visa on your next trip to the United States.