Why Voluntarily Abandon Your Green Card? I-407 FAQ

In some cases it may be beneficial to give up (abandon) your U.S. green card and permanent resident status. It's done using for I-407.

Although legal permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) have gained a special status that many envy, not all of them want to live in the U.S. forever. If you have decided to live somewhere else in the world, you might, for the reasons described below, wish to file a Form I-407 ("Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status").

Why can't I just keep my green card after moving to another country?

If you move to another country with the intention of making it your primary home, you will be considered to have given up your U.S. green card, and won't be allowed back in to the United States.

This can happen in as little as one day (contrary to popular myth). However, it is true that, if you stay away from the U.S. for more than six months and attempt to return, you're likely to face questions about whether you abandoned your residency; and if you stay away for more than a year, you will be presumed to have abandoned your residency, and face a tough time arguing to be let in to the United States.

So trying to hang onto your green card after moving to another country could mean that you ultimately waste time and money in any attempts to travel to the U.S.. You might just be turned around at the border or airport and sent home.

After you give up the green card, your situation will be much clearer, and you'll still be able to apply for entry visas for short trips to the United States. And if someday you want to apply for a new green card, the fact that you voluntarily abandoned your residency earlier will not be held against you.

Another reason to give up your green card if you're actually living in another country is that you'll free yourself of the obligation to pay U.S. taxes.

What is an I-407 form, and what is its purpose?

An I-407 form allows a legal permanent resident to officially abandon their status. You would need to turn it in to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country, along with your actual green card (but no fee).

The consular officer will interview you to make sure that you understand the consequences of giving up your U.S. residency, and that you are doing so voluntarily. Then you'll get a copy of your form I-407, which will help you in the future if you're applying for a U.S. visa or entry, to avoid confusion about your earlier status.

Where can I get Form I-407?

Go to the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate that serves your home country, which you can find on the "Websites of U.S. Consulates, Embassies, and Diplomatic Missions" page of the State Department's website. Then search for the term "I-407." This should lead you to a pdf of the form as well as to instructions on your local consulate's procedures; for example, whether it wishes you to make an appointment to submit the form, or to mail it in.

Can someone be asked to sign an I-407 form?

Yes, in some cases an immigration official at the border will note that a permanent resident has been out of the country for a lengthy period of time. The officer may advise the person to file an I-407 and abandon their residency. However, the person cannot be required to do so unless there is sufficient evidence that they have actually established residence outside the U.S. or they have broken immigration or U.S. laws.

What if I will need to leave the U.S. for a significant period of time, but wish to return later?

If you plan to be out of the U.S. for an extended length of time, you can apply for what's known as a reentry permit. With this permit, you should be allowed back in the U.S. at the end of your stay. Reentry permits can be used for absences of two years at a time. To apply, follow these instructions for submitting USCIS Form I-131 found on the USCIS website.

What if something happens while I've traveling, and I can't return to the U.S. when expected?

You should contact the U.S. consulate in your country and explain the situation. They're most likely to be sympathetic if you can prove that circumstances beyond your control arose, such as a health issue or the death of a close family member. The consulate can issue you a special visa for returning U.S. residents.

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