All people arriving at the U.S. border or a port of entry have basic rights, and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), also known as green card holders, enjoy greater rights than nonimmigrants when returning to the United States after travel abroad. Like all international travelers, LPRs are subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when arriving at an airport or land port of entry. As an LPR, CBP will screen you to determine whether you are a “returning resident” or an “arriving alien.”
If questions arise and CBP is unable to admit you quickly, you may be taken to a separate area for “secondary inspection.” A referral to secondary inspection by itself is not an adverse action, but you can expect to be detained anywhere from a few minutes to several hours or longer if an issue arises. During secondary inspection, CBP will ask you questions and may collect biographic and biometric data, run record checks, and determine whether you should be admitted to the United States.
If CBP determines that you are a “returning resident,” you should be processed quickly and admitted to the U.S. However, CBP will consider you an “arriving alien” if it determines that you:
Right to a Hearing Before an Immigration Judge. An LPR who is deemed to be an “arriving alien,” may be charged as removable from the United States. LPRs that are charged as removable have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge.
Abandonment of Residence/LPR Status. CBP may attempt to convince you that you abandoned your residence because of your absence from the United States and may urge you to sign a Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status. However, it is important to know:
If CBP believes that you abandoned your U.S. residence and you refuse to sign a Form I-407, CBP must issue you a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an immigration judge who will determine if you have abandoned your U.S. residence. CBP cannot make this decision on its own.
If CBP believes that you abandoned your U.S. residence and you sign a Form I-407, you still have the right to request a hearing before an immigration judge.
If CBP takes your permanent resident card, you have the right to other evidence of your LPR status, such as a stamp in your passport.
Future Travel. To avoid delays at the ports of entry or legal issues in the future, you should consult with an immigration attorney prior to traveling if you:
2018 American Immigration Lawyers Association