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Permanent Residents Status, Travel and U.S. Customs CBP – Avoiding Problems

Recently, our law firm has seen a rise in our Permanent Resident clients facing challenges at the airports and certain borders.  Especially, Dulles Airport and Canadian Borders.  Baltimore Washington International Airport (“BWI”), and Ronald Regan Airports can also at times be challenging for Residents. It is important to remember that if you, or a family member, are not yet U.S. Citizens, you are in essence applying to be admitted every time you cross a border or travel overseas and could be denied. Customs Border and Patrol (“CBP”) determines if you have established and are maintaining U.S. status.  Within a year period, CBP evaluates a U.S. Permanent Residents cumulative travel time.  It is important that they see at least 60% of the year is spent residing in the United States. Otherwise, we discuss a couple options below.

In 1997 there were major changes in the U.S. Immigration laws which caused a Permanent Resident to be treated the same as all other non-U.S. Citizens applying for readmission into the United States.  Below are a list of tips to keep in mind when you are travelling as a U.S. Permanent Resident in and out of the United States.

  • If you are retired over the age of 65 and have your Permanent Resident Status (“PR”), you may be challenged harder by CBP about your intent to live in the United States.  Many of our more senior clients are sponsored by U.S. Citizen children for U.S. Permanent Resident Status. However the PR parent wants to still live and visit their home country frequently. CBP could take drastic action if there is “too much travel” even if one returns every 6 months.  CBP Officers often threaten to take away PR status, or they take away status at the Border, and place the person in removal proceedings with a Notice to Appear (NTA) which is very frustrating. There are steps that can be taken to easily avoid this risk such as a re-entry permit, or a plan for U.S. citizenship with legal guidance.
  •  Any criminal issue, no matter how minor it seems, could cause a PR to be challenged by CBP even if the case was dismissed. BEFORE a PR travels it is essential to ensure they are admissiable back into the U.S.   Eventhough one is not deportable or removable from the U.S., being admitted back to the United States is a different issue.  Never discuss an arrest or charge that was dismissed with CBP in case they deem you have “admitted guilt”.  Rather let them know that you or your can provide the official disposition of the case and that is all you can discuss on the matter. Have your immigration lawyer’s card handy when reentering the country, and a copy of any court dispositions available to give to CBP if the situation gets very uncomfortable. But under no circumstance enter a discussion about the case. Respectfully decline.
  • Be prepared to answer the following questions when returning to the U.S.: What is your occupation, how do you earn your livelihood as a PR, do  you own property in the U.S. or abroad, why did you travel out of the country on each occasion reflected in your passport.

The specific CBP Officer you get makes all the difference in the world.  The good news is that despite “not having a right to counsel” at the border, getting an experienced U.S. Immigration attorney, especially one who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), can make a significant difference in resolving challenges at the U.S. Border.  It is important not to deal with U.S. Border challenges without counsel, even if CBP makes intimidating threats.  Our law firm has emergency contact information for U.S. Border problems at 703.966.0907 and info@scottcclaw.com (state in subject line “EMERGENCY”). Our response is immediate by our on call attorney.

We invite you to contact our law office at our main office numbers listed conveniently at www.scottcclaw.com .

ScottMond Law Firm

Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association – AILA 

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