Being a Legal Permanent Resident (“LPR”) of the United States or “green card holder” has many advantages, including the ability to live and work legally in the U.S. Seems obvious, right? Perhaps, but what may not be so obvious are the responsibilities of being an LPR. To illustrate, I will share with you the top fact patterns that I encounter when speaking with Israelis who hold U.S. green cards. I’ll refer to the four sons from the Passover story to keep you awake.
The Wise Son
The wise son works for a high-tech company which sponsored his green card. After many happy years in the Valley, the wise son receives a job offer from a competitor company in Israel that he cannot refuse. The wise son relocates back to Ra’anana, and quickly remembers how much he missed eating hummus and Friday night dinner with his parents. Moreover, the wise son is aware of the tax implications of being an LPR, and knows deep down that he will not be returning to live in the U.S. in the foreseeable future. The wise son completes Form I-407 (Application to Abandon LPR Status), and formally relinquishes his green card at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.
The Wicked Son
The wicked son meets his U.S. citizen wife on kibbutz. The wife petitions for a green card for the wicked son, and they live in L.A. for several years. Following a nasty divorce, the wicked son moves back to Israel, but continues using his green card to enter the U.S. for 10 years. Each year, when arriving for his annual visit, the wicked son lies to the immigration officer about when he last entered the U.S. However, on this occasion, the immigration officer takes the wicked son into secondary questioning, where he determines that the wicked son actually abandoned his U.S. residence long ago. The wicked son is refused admission to the United States, and is placed in removal proceedings.
The Simple Son
The simple son was issued a green card when he was child (his mom was a researcher at Harvard, and the university sponsored her green card). The simple son has been living in Haifa since he left the U.S. as a teenager, and has not been back since. One day, the simple son decides to visit his brother in New York. He finds his old green card in a box in the attic, and just before booking his flight to JFK, a light bulb goes on in his mind. He calls his attorney to ask if he can use his green card to reenter the U.S. The attorney explains that the green card expired by operation of law because he remained outside of the U.S. for 12 consecutive months. The simple son scratches his head, and applies for a tourist visa at the U.S. Embassy in Tel-Aviv.
The Son that Doesn’t Know How to Ask (“SDKHTA”)
The SDKHTA wins the DV Lottery and is excited about moving to Miami. SDKHTA buys a condo, opens a bank account, and sets up a falafel stand in South Beach. SDKHTA can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world, and envisions retiring “Golden Girls” style. Sadly, SDKHTA learns that his father in Eilat is seriously ill and will need to undergo lengthy medical treatment. SDKHTA is uncertain about engaging an attorney to ask what would happen to his LPR status if he returns to Israel, so he checks the USCIS website. SDHKTA discovers that he may be eligible for a “Reentry Permit” which would allow him to reenter the U.S. as an LPR after being abroad temporarily. Since SDKHTA intends to maintain domicile in Miami, he quickly files an application for a Reentry Permit to preserve his LPR status.