In today’s post, we will discuss how green card holders may be affected by President Trump’s Executive Order imposing a temporary travel ban on foreign nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen), including green card holders as well as non-immigrants. Since the release of the Executive Order, several courts have issued temporary injunctions preventing green card holders (LPRs), legally authorized to enter the United States, from being detained and/or removed from the United States until a federal court can decide the constitutionality of the orders.
In response to these court orders, the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has provided further guidance on the enforcement of these actions, and the impact on green card holders from these seven Muslim-majority countries. While both agencies have indicated that they are complying with the court orders, the consensus is that immigration officials will continue to enforce President Trump’s Executive Orders, and they will continue to remain in place.
What does this mean for green card holders? The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has stated that the entry of lawful permanent residents remains in the national interest, therefore “absent receipt of derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare,” lawful permanent resident status will be a deciding factor in allowing an LPR entry. The entry of lawful permanent residents will continue to be discretionary and green card holders will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Immigration officials may continue to exercise their discretionary authority to revoke non-immigrant visas, and may present green card holders with a Form I-407 to abandon their legal permanent resident status (more on this below). The Department of Homeland Security has further warned that, “No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States.” Although lawful permanent residents have received additional protections by court order, there are several situations that have arisen that green card holders must be aware of as outlined below.
Does the Executive Order apply to green card holders from the seven Muslim-majority countries listed?
Yes, green card holders (otherwise known as Lawful Permanent Residents) who were out of the country at the time the Executive Order was signed, and green card holders who traveled outside of the country after the order was signed, will be affected. The Department of Homeland Security and Secretary of State, has indicated that grants of national interest waivers will be issued on a case-by-case basis, if it is in the national interest to allow the foreign national to enter, and if they do not pose a threat to national security. Green card holders who have remained in the United States continuously, without interruption or gaps, will not be affected by the Executive Order.
What is the I-407 Abandonment of Permanent Resident Status Form?
Although legal permanent residents have a legal right to enter the United States, and it is in the national interest to grant them admissibility, reports have been surfacing that dozens of lawful permanent residents have been coerced into forfeiting their permanent residency by voluntarily signing the Form I-407 Abandonment of Permanent Resident Status. The I-407 is signed by a lawful permanent resident outside of the United States or at a port of entry, letting USCIS know that the permanent resident has voluntarily decided to abandon their status as a lawful permanent resident of the United States. By signing this form the permanent resident relinquishes their rights as a permanent resident and certifies that they knowingly and willingly abandoned their status, that they were informed of their right to a hearing before an immigration judge, and that in signing they “knowingly, willfully, and affirmatively” waive their rights to such a hearing.
What should I do if an immigration officer requests for me to sign a Form I-407 Abandonment of Permanent Resident Status?
As a permanent resident, you are not required to sign Form I-407, and should not surrender your permanent resident status even if you have been asked or been pressured to do so against your will by an immigration officer. Immigration officers may employ several intimidation tactics designed to persuade you to comply, or may even lie or misrepresent the truth to get you to sign. As a legal permanent resident, you do not lose your status simply by spending time abroad. Foreign nationals remain in legal permanent resident status, until they receive a “Notice to Appear” in immigration court before a judge or an order of removal. If you have never received a Notice to Appear or order of removal, and have no reason to believe that you are in immigration proceedings, you should NOT sign the form under any circumstances, and resist any efforts to the contrary. Even where a final order of removal has been issued, the government attorney must prove a permanent resident’s abandonment by “clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence.” In any case, abandonment of status is not a ground of inadmissibility. If an immigration official uses it as a basis to issue a “Notice to Appear” they are in violation of INA §237(a)(1)(A).
Only in situations where it is found that a legal permanent resident’s visit abroad was not a “temporary absence” can the permanent resident be subject to inadmissibility. A lack of special immigrant status can render a legal permanent resident removable. However, even where this is the case, the LPR will be issued a “Notice to Appear” in immigration court and the government must prove the abandonment of status. An LPR in removal proceedings, does not lose their permanent resident status until a final order of removal is issued.
Remember: The Form I-407 may only be signed voluntarily and a refusal to sign the I-407 is not adequate grounds for detention. An LPR who refuses to sign this form will be issued a “Notice to Appear” before an immigration judge who must determine whether the LPR has lost their status.
What evidence may I provide if an Immigration Officer claims that I have abandoned my LPR status and denies my entry
If an immigration official questions your legal permanent resident status upon re-entry, you should be prepared to provide evidence to show that you have substantial ties to the United States (lease agreement/deed of property, employment contract, insurance policies, financial loan documentation, evidence of children or spouses residing in the United States, or any other evidence to show that you have strong roots in the United States), explain the purpose of your visit abroad, and provide evidence where possible of what you did there. If you are departing the United States you should provide an expected termination date of your visit abroad. If after reviewing your documentation and questioning, the immigration officer is still not convinced that you have not abandoned your status, you should request a hearing before an immigration judge, and under no circumstances voluntarily sign the I-407 abandoning your status and right to a hearing.
What do I do if the immigration officer confiscates my green card?
If the immigration official confiscates your green card, the officer is required to provide you with alternative evidence of your legal permanent resident status such as an I-94 arrival/departure record and a stamp in your passport that says “Evidence of Temporary Residence.”
If you have further questions and concerns please contact our office.