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I need to relinquish my green card urgently as my family needs to relocate back to Europe shortly. I'm planning to fly to the CA/Mexico border in order to relinquish the Green Card and end my US residency.

I have a few questions:

  1. Can I be immediately readmitted after I relinquish the card to continue the relocation? Do I need to apply for an ESTA ahead of time to do this?
  2. What documents should I bring?
  3. How long should I expect the whole process to take?
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  • 13
    If I were you I would relinquish the permanent resident status after leaving the country. It will be simpler because you won't need to worry about reentering. You can do it by mail, as mentioned below. You should also be aware that you can move to Europe temporarily without abandoning your permanent resident status. Depending on the reason for your urgent need to move to Europe, that might be the better course of action. – phoog Dec 2 at 13:23
  • 4
    Canada does not border Mexico. There is no CA/MX border. Or do you mean either US/CA or US/MX border? – gerrit Dec 2 at 14:41
  • 8
    @gerrit I suspect CA = California – rhialto Dec 2 at 16:02
  • 2
    @rhialto indeed, CA is the standard two-letter postal abbreviation for California. This gets even more confusing when one considers that there is a place in California called Ontario. – phoog Dec 3 at 3:57
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    After everything I had to do to get a green card, this post hurts me. – xyious 2 days ago
19

There is no need to physically relinquish your green card. From Maintaining Permanent Residence:

You may also lose your permanent resident status by intentionally abandoning it. You may be found to have abandoned your status if you:

  • Move to another country, intending to live there permanently.

There is no need to spend the money and time to fly to the border for this purpose. Simply carry on with your plan and relocate to Europe.

Update: As noted in the comments, you will also want to file an I-407 so that your US tax obligations are released. You can do this by mail from anywhere, there is no need to physically appear at the border.

  • 2
    There is a need to actively file I-407 to relinquish your permanent residency, if you do not wish to be subject to US taxes on your worldwide income for the rest of your life. Once you have been a permanent resident, you are considered to continue to meet the Green Card Test, and thus be a resident alien for US tax purposes, no matter how many years you have left the US or whether your card is expired, until you have filed I-407, or you have received a final judicial or administrative decision that you have abandoned residence. – user102008 Dec 2 at 19:32
  • See this section from Publication 519: "Until you have proof your letter was received, you remain a resident alien for tax purposes even if the USCIS would not recognize the validity of your green card because it is more than 10 years old or because you have been absent from the United States for a period of time." – user102008 Dec 2 at 19:34
  • @user102008: Good points, thanks. I've updated my answer. – Greg Hewgill Dec 2 at 21:42
13

Are you sure that the relocation back to Europe is permanent? If not, you may be able to retain US Permanent Resident status for up to six years by applying for a re-entry permit. The permit is normally valid for 2 years but can be renewed twice.

While this option may offer useful flexibility to many individuals, the downside to this is that the person would still be considered a US taxpayer and would need to continue to file US tax returns and potentially FBAR and FATCA paperwork.

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8

Thanks for all your answers. I probably wasn’t as explicit as I needed in my question but now that I’ve been through it I want to share my experience.

As of this Summer you can no longer abandon LPR status and more importantly residence at a US embassy or consulate.

You have 2 options 1) mail form I-407 to USCIS 2) abandon your green card at a port of entry

It takes 60 days to process if you mail the form in and your date of abandonment seems to be the date of processing (eg 60 days later). If you happen to be abandoning your green card to avoid the tax complications of remaining a US resident then this is problematic. If you hold your LPR status for 1 day of a calendar year, you are deemed a US resident for tax purposes.

To be certain, I flew to a port of entry at the border so I could cross back in on a tourist visa and went through the I-407 in person with a CBP officer which allows you to end your residency immediately. I’ll admit, most of the CBP officers thought I was crazy and very few had seen this happen before but the officer in charge of special cases like this says it happens maybe once a week.

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Marc is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
  • Did you need the ESTA? – Peter Taylor yesterday
  • Yes, I’m this case they gave it to me after I came in to process the green card and the CBP agents walked me back in to the US initially without one. You don’t need to secure one before flying to the border. – Marc 14 hours ago
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You can abandon LPR status and return your green card by mail from outside the US, using Form I-407. That may be better than just moving with intent to live elsewhere, because it eliminates any question about whether you owe taxes as a US resident, but simpler, cheaper, and more convenient than doing it in person at a port of entry before moving to Europe.

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