You may lose your permanent resident status (green card) if you commit certain crimes that make you removable from the United States under Section 237 and Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If you commit such an act, you may be brought before an immigration court to determine your right to remain a permanent resident.
You may also lose your green card if you are found to have abandoned your Permanent Resident Status. This can happen if you:
- Move to another country intending to live there permanently;
- Remain outside of the United States for more than 6 months without providing evidence of close ties demonstrating an uninterrupted intent of permanently residing in the United States;
- Remain outside of the United States for more than 1 year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa;
- Remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa;
- Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the United States for any period;
- Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your tax returns.
Generally, every travel outside of the US triggers questions about the green-card holder’s foreign residence. There is a common misperception that, as long as you visit the US every 6 months, you will be able to maintain your permanent residence. This is not true. First, many don’t realize that absences from US is just one of the factors which the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers must consider in determining the LPR’s residence. For example, even if you return from a 10-day trip to your home country, the CBP officer will most likely question the purpose of your visit. And if, based on your answers, the CBP officer believes that you have residence in another country but keep your green-card just for visits to the US, then that officer may conclude that you abandoned your permanent residence in the US.
Furthermore, frequent absences of even less than 180 days may still cause abandonment. But, if you have been absent from the US for more than 180 days during a single trip, the CBP officers are instructed to presume that you had abandoned your permanent resident status. In such a case, the CBP officer should make reasonable inquiries and, if the officer is not convinced that, despite your lengthy absence, you maintained your intent to permanently reside in the US, then the officer may seize your green-card and give you summons to appear in court. Contrary to popular belief, CBP officers may not restrict your entry into the US due to alleged abandonment of your permanent residence. This is true even if you spent years outside of the US. CBP officers can only summon you to appear in immigration court to prove that you did not abandon your residence in the US. But the officer must till let you into the country. Only an immigration judge may take away your green-card.