What is an I-407 and Why Should I Not Sign It?
An I-407 is an immigration form through which a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) can voluntarily relinquish his green card. Until recently, it was typically used by a lawful permanent resident who no longer resided permanently in the United States, but rather wanted to be able to travel temporarily to the United States. The LPR could appear at the United States consulate in the country where he resides, sign the I-407, and typically would then be issued a 10 year, multiple entry visitor visa which allows him to stay for up to six months. The reason why someone would do this is because as a lawful permanent resident, you are required to reside permanently in the United States. If you do not, you can be considered to have abandoned your lawful permanent residence. If you are absent from the United States for longer than six months, the law says that you are presumed to have abandoned your residence, however that is a rebuttable presumption.
In the past, LPR’s have been presented with this form at the airport where they had criminal convictions or had been absent for a long period of time, but in the last week, travelers are reporting that it may be common practice at the airport and even on the airplane. This is of great concern because, as reports have shown, LPR’s are being presented this form without having the ability to speak with an attorney about the ramifications. Generally, a CBP officer may tell an LPR if he signs this form, he will be allowed to withdraw his application for admission, instead of being deported. This offer can sound enticing to someone who doesn’t know that he has the right to have his case reviewed by an Immigration Judge and he may be able to win that case.
Because this form has come to the forefront, it is important to know that as an LPR, you continue to be an LPR until an Immigration Judge says otherwise (and that finding is upheld on appeal). If you are an LPR returning from foreign travel, there may be ways to prevent you from losing your green card, including explaining why you were absent for a long period of time or applying for a waiver of a criminal conviction. If you are an LPR and are returning to the United States, do not sign an I-407. If you are put in removal proceedings, contact an immigration attorney for help fighting your case. You may still be allowed to withdraw your application for admission in front of the Immigration Judge, despite what you may be told by a CBP officer. If you have any questions about your case, please call our office at (919) 828-5570 to schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys.
On a similar note, if you are an LPR and you intend to travel, you should contact an immigration attorney before you do. The ability to run background checks and fingerprints at the border has changed dramatically and you should not assume that because you have not been stopped before that you won’t be stopped now.