Green Card Six-Month Frequent Fliers

Green card six-month fliers refer to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who leave the United States for long periods of time, but yet return to the US every six months. A common concern of the LRPs is whether that would constitute abandonment of green card in the eye of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). If CBP believes that a LPR has abandoned his or her permanent residency in the United States, his or her green card may be taken away at the entry and then the LPR be put into immigration court proceeding.

The immigration law says that absence of more than six months in the Untied States can be found abandonment of permanent residency. Is it safe to simply return to the United States every six months to preclude the danger of being found abandoning lawful permanent residency? The answer is no. Determination of abandonment of permanent residency is not based solely upon the length of time spent outside of the U.S. The focus is not on the length of time abroad and rather more on where does the person actually lives. The important analysis is to look at the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to factors such as:

  • how many years the person has lived in the U.S.;
  • whether the person works in the U.S. or abroad;
  • where the person’s family members live; and
  • whether U.S. taxes have been paid.

The CBP Inspector’s Field Manual lists other indicators of possible abandonment of permanent residency are:

  • employment abroad,
  • immediate family members who are not permanent residents,
  • arrival on a charter flight where most passengers are non-residents with return passage,
  • lack of a fixed address in the U.S., or
  • frequent prolonged absences from the U.S.”

When CBP see cases that are questionable, their Field Manual asks CBP officers “to ask for other documentation to substantiate residence, such as a driver’s license and employer identification cards.” If a LPR has multiple the aforementioned situations, it is advisable that the LPR brings sufficient documents to prove his or her residence.

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