Immigration Corner | How to give up a green card
Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
My husband wants to return his green card and opt instead for a regular visitor's visa. If he were to decide on that option would he need to reapply for the B1/2 visa? Would there be any sanctions on him returning the green card?
He is unable at this time to apply for permission to be out of the country for an extended period as he is unable to be away from his job in Jamaica for the time it would require him to do so.
As a green-card holder (lawful permanent resident of the United States), you are free to surrender the card at any time. While surrendering the green card would indicate that you do not wish to reside in the States, it is not automatic that you would be granted a non-immigrant (visitor's) visa. Your husband would have to demonstrate to the US consular officer that he has enough ties to Jamaica that he does not wish to relinquish, i.e., if he visits he will return to Jamaica.
It is a major decision to surrender your green card, because depending on who files the petition, it may take years to get a new one. However, surrendering the card does not have any negative implications for a future application for a new green card. The alternative is to apply for a re-entry permit that would allow your husband to reside outside the States for up to two years and is in some instances renewable for a second two-year period.
In applying for the re-entry permit, timing is important as you must be inside the US when the petition is filed, but the applicant can leave and return when it is time to be fingerprinted. The timing can be scheduled with minimum time away from Jamaica to accommodate the process.
Surrendering the green card is done with the form I-407 and can be submitted in person to the US embassy in St Andrew.
- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org