A new practice pointer from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) entitled, Frequent Travel Abroad and Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status, clarifies the CBP’s position on Legal Permanent Residents (green card holders) who frequently leave the country. Be aware that Customs takes more into account when determining whether a legal permanent resident has abandoned their status than simply the dates of exit and entry.
In fact, during an October 20, 2011 meeting with the D.C. Chapter’s CBP Liaison Committee, Baltimore (BWI) CBP representatives confirmed that “CBP officers are less focused on the length of time abroad and more on where does the person actually live.” According to the representatives, CBP officers will look at the totality of the circumstances, including “how many years the person has lived in the U.S.; whether the person is employed in the U.S. or abroad; where family members live; [and] whether U.S. taxes have been paid.”
Washington Dulles Airport’s CBP representatives concurred:
Abandonment issues were also discussed during the Committee’s January 25, 2012 meeting with Washington (Dulles) CBP representatives. During the meeting, CBP representatives indicated that “[d]omicile is the major issue for WAS CBP inspectors, so the applicant should have evidence with him/her of where s/he lives.”
Carry additional documentation such as a drivers license of employment ID with you to be safe.
The CBP Inspector’s Field Manual (“IFM”) similarly explains that the length of time spent abroad is not the sole indicator of abandonment (AILA Doc. No. 11120959). The IFM notes that other indicators of possible abandonment 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 U.S.” In questionable cases, the IFM advises officers “to ask for other documentation to substantiate residence, such as a driver’s license and employer identification cards.”