Can the US green card be withdrawn?
Permanent resident visas are not really “permanent.”
A “green card” may still be revoked by the US Department of Homeland Security on certain grounds. In some cases, green card holders may even face the threat of deportation.
What steps can a green card holder take to avoid this situation?
Agnes’ American citizen daughter petitioned her 10 years ago and she has been in the United States for less than a year.
Agnes stays in the United States for less than one month every year but her visits are not accurately reflected in her travel documents.
Agnes regularly pays an “agent” who forges arrival and departure stamps on her passport to make it appear the green card holder has shorter stays in the Philippines and spends more time in the United States.
Early this year, Agnes underwent secondary inspection as she was entering the United States through the Los Angeles airport. She admitted that the stamps on her passport were fake. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector prepared a sworn statement that Agnes had to sign.
In spite of this, Agnes expected to enter the United States without any problem. But the CBP inspector took her green card and she got a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge for removal/deportation proceedings.
She got a temporary visa to attend the removal/deportation proceedings. Agnes now wants to give up her green card and return to the Philippines.
What happens if she simply leaves? Will she be able to return to the United States if another petition is filed for her?
Use it or lose it
A permanent resident gets a green card allowing him/her to live and work in the United States. Usually, green card holders remain in the United States and apply for citizenship after meeting the residency requirement.
There are many green card holders, however, who do not stay in the United States. Some may have valid reasons, like people studying abroad, or have temporary job assignments.
Others, however, simply do not want to give up their green card even if they really do not have a good reason to keep it. For these people, it is actually better to give up the green card and get the appropriate visitors visa.
Misrepresenting a material fact in seeking admission to the United States is a valid basis to rescind the immigrant visa. Fake date stamps constitute fraud.
In Agnes’ case, she will have to appear before the immigration court and face removal charges. If she wants to keep her green card, she will have to explore the different waivers available and appropriate for her case. She needs professional legal assistance.
If Agnes wants to give up her green card, she can file an abandonment of status application. This is considered a voluntary relinquishment of her status. But the US government counsel may also ask the court for a removal order against Agnes.
If the immigration judge issues a removal order, Agnes will not be able to return for at least 10 years.
Whichever option she chooses, Agnes will have to endure immigration court backlogs. In most jurisdictions, the backlog ranges from one to three years. Unless a person decides not to challenge a removal order, he/she may have to remain in the United States and wait at least two years before the case is resolved.
If she is “removed” and waits 10 years to return to the United States, Agnes will still need a waiver for the fraud she committed in presenting fake travel stamps. Whether or not she will be able to reenter the United States will depend on how her waiver application is received.
Like a driver’s license, a green card is merely a privilege and may be revoked. To keep it, the green card holder has to use it for the purpose it was issued. Unlawful acts and fraud will have serious consequences on one’s ability to return to the United States.
Lawyer Lourdes Tancinco may be reached at [email protected], facebook/tancincolaw, www.tancinco.com or at 7211963.
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