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I want to abandon my green card. Will this impact my children?

By November 17, 2023Family Immigration
A group of children playing

Legal permanent residents (ie, green card holders) who want to abandon their green card may do so by submitting Form I-407 to the U.S. government. This form can be submitted to a USCIS Service Center or submitted to a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer at a U.S. Port of Entry. In some circumstances it may be submitted at a U.S. Consulate.

Sometimes a foreign national who became a green card holder along with their family may want to abandon their green card. This can arise in situations where the person plans to move abroad indefinitely for a new job or has family or personal reasons for wanting to live outside the U.S. indefinitely. In many cases the green card holder and their family would move abroad together and choose to abandon their green cards. However, in some circumstances the family members may desire to stay in the U.S. This can be a significant concern if there are minor children involved, as there is case law that imputes a parent’s abandonment of legal permanent resident status to their minor children. This is also acknowledged on Form I-407, where the instructions state that “generally if a parent abandons LPR status, any minor children in that parent’s custody will also have abandoned their LPR status.

If a foreign national plans to abandon their green card and does not want this to impact their children’s green cards, it is important that the children are either in the custody and control of a parent who is not abandoning their green card and/or that the children remain in the U.S. and maintain ties to the U.S. that would demonstrate that it is not appropriate to impute the parents’ abandonment of the green card to the children. There is some case law that supports the idea that it is not always appropriate to impute a parent’s abandonment of legal permanent resident status to their children.

For example, in Khoshfahm v. Holder, 655 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir. 2011), the Court stated, “The inability of a child to form an intent as to domicile does not, however, support imputation of abandonment of LPR status in every circumstance. Assume, for example, that LPR parents leave the country, but their LPR child stays in the United States to attend school or live with a relative. The parents’ length of stay abroad, and their lack of continuous intent to return to the United States, could result in a finding that they abandoned their LPR status. In that case, it may be unreasonable to impute the parents’ abandonment to the child since the child never left the United States. In such a case, then, that the child is unable legally to demonstrate his own intent as to his residence would be of no significance. This example simply illustrates the point that, although reasonable in this case, imputation of abandonment of LPR status from parent to child may not be appropriate in every circumstance.” (emphasis added).

The determination of whether a green card has been abandoned is a fact specific inquiry. If a parent abandons their green card and then moves abroad with their minor children, the abandonment will be imputed to the children, and they will lose their status as green card holders. However, as explained above, there are ways to preserve the minor children’s green card status, such as the children remaining in the custody and control of a parent who is not abandoning their green card or the children remaining in the U.S. in the care of other relatives.

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