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Form I-407 and Voluntary Green Card Abandonment

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September 26, 2022

Key Takeaways

Many people lose their lawful permanent resident status every year. Some choose to give up their green card by voluntarily abandoning it. Others lose their green card involuntarily. This article explains what it means to abandon your green card voluntarily or involuntarily. It then describes the process to follow when you want to give up your green card and the consequences of giving it up.

Table of Contents

What is green card abandonment?

Green card abandonment is also known as an abandonment of lawful permanent resident status or LPR status. It can occur in two ways under immigration law:

  1.  You give up your permanent resident card voluntarily, or 
  2.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes your green card from you. 

Voluntary green card abandonment

Some green card holders voluntarily give up their lawful permanent resident status. This most commonly happens for tax or travel reasons. 

As a legal permanent resident of the United States, you must file U.S. income tax returns. Usually, you also have to pay taxes. Some people choose to abandon their green cards to stop paying taxes to the United States. If you’re considering this, you’ll want to understand how it affects your tax and immigration status. To that end, you may want to consult a tax adviser and immigration lawyer.

If you spend more than a year abroad and you don’t intend to return to permanently live in the United States, you may want also want to abandon your green card. A green card is for someone who wants to live in the United States permanently. If you are still interested in visiting the United States while primarily residing abroad, you should consider entering with a nonimmigrant visa (B-1 or B-2). 

Involuntary green card abandonment

Involuntary abandonment of LPR status is more common than voluntary abandonment. If you live abroad for longer than one year and no longer have ties to the United States, you may face involuntary green card abandonment. 

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a United States port of entry usually determines if you abandoned your status. The officer can also take your card and let an immigration judge decide your status. If you planned to return to the United States earlier but were kept away due to an unexpected issue, you could try to convince the border officer or immigration judge you did not intend to abandon your U.S. residence. 

However, if you plan to spend more than one year outside the United States, you should apply for a re-entry permit or SB-1 visa, also known as a returning resident visa, before you leave.  

What are the consequences of green card abandonment?

If you surrender or abandon your green card, you cannot undo your choice. Without a green card, you usually need to file a visa application to travel to the United States. If you are a citizen of certain countries, you can travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. If you travel to the United States without an updated visa, you could face removal proceedings or deportation. 

If you voluntarily gave up your green card, you must carry the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) response to your submitted Form I-407 when re-entering the United States. 

In the future, you can apply for a new green card. But you will have to start the process over completely. Keep in mind that your eligibility may have changed. For example, if you applied for a green card as a minor child of a U.S. citizen but you are no longer a minor and you’re married, you no longer qualify. 

Form I-407: How to voluntarily give up your U.S. permanent residence status

To give up your green card, you need to file Form I-407, “Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status.” 

With this form, you will need to provide basic biographical information, your most recent departure from the United States, and your reason for abandoning your status. You will also have to return your green card or explain why you cannot send it back. For example, if you lost or destroyed your green card, you can explain that. You should not send back any other documents, such as a state-issued driver’s license. 

You will then mail your form and green card to this address: 

USCIS Eastern Forms Center Attn: I-407 Unit 

P.O. Box 567

Williston, VT 05495

You will likely hear back from the United States after two months if you mail your form. 

In rare cases, you may need to immediately prove you abandoned your status. If so, you can go to your local U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate, surrender your green card there, and submit your form in person. 

If you surrendered your green card to avoid taxation, you should consult a tax adviser about how to show the IRS that you are no longer a permanent resident. You will likely have to provide your I-407 application. 

Conclusion

Handling green card abandonment can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you want to reapply for a green card but can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!

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