On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning all people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia from being able to enter the United States. The administration’s claim is that the ban only affects people from those countries, and that legal permanent residents (LPR’s) should be allowed entry so long as no “significant derogatory information” about the resident comes to their attention. Unfortunately, since the ban was put in place, we are hearing accounts of LPR’s from other countries – including Mexico – that are being subjected to increased scrutiny, long detentions, and coercion aimed at getting them to give up their LPR status by signing Form I-407, Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence. This is why it is so important that LPR’s and their families are aware of what is happening and what their rights are in these situations.
Upon returning to the U.S. from a trip for any period of time, LPR’s should not surrender their Green Cards if asked to do so. An LPR does not lose status just for taking a trip outside the country – no matter how long they were gone. Only a final order of removal by an immigration judge can revoke LPR status. The government must prove that a person lost their LPR status by presenting very clear and strong evidence for a judge to do this.
If an LPR signs Form I-407, it means you are telling immigration officials that you have decided you no longer want your LPR status in the United States. This form must be signed voluntarily and there are no punishments for refusing to sign. An LPR cannot be detained on grounds that they did not sign the form or that the officer believes they abandoned their residency by moving to another country. An LPR who refuses to sign Form I-407 must be issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) so that an immigration judge can determine whether they have lost their LPR status.
If an officer accuses a returning LPR of abandoning their residency, the LPR should offer evidence of the following: ties to the U.S. (such as employment, children in school, family in the U.S., tax records, etc.), the reason for their visit outside of the U.S., and, if applicable, the reason they were gone for a prolonged period of time. If the officer is not convinced, and tries to insist Form I-407 be signed, the LPR should ask for a hearing before an immigration judge. If the officer takes the LPR’s Green Card, they must provide the LPR with alternative evidence of their LPR status, such as an I-94 or passport stamp that says “Evidence of Temporary Residence.”
FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND! If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration makes more changes that may affect you and your family. Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation. If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at (210) 899-2290 to set up a consultation.