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15 Things to Consider Before you Give Up Green Card Voluntarily
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Practically speaking, people from all over the world want to come to the U.S. They will look at every possible visa option that will allow them to work and stay in the U.S. permanently, and if not permanently at least long term. However, there are also a few people who have their Green Card but for various reasons want to abandon it voluntarily. Most of these people want to give up Green Card status because they spend most of their time outside the U.S., either because of family or employment

Being a permanent resident of the U.S. you are expected to spend most of your time inside the U.S. If you don’t you run the risk of having your permanent residence status terminated, and if your Green Card is cancelled by the immigration officer, it will be particularly difficult to obtain permanent residence status again. Thus, some permanent residents of U.S. who work and/or stay outside the U.S. for long periods of time, give up their Green Card voluntarily, usually seeking to do so before it can be cancelled. The one clear advantage of giving up your Green Card voluntarily is you can apply again in future if you want to. However, in this article we will give several reasons why you should think twice before taking such a drastic step.

Kenji, a national of Japan and permanent resident of the US, has been working for a US company in Japan for the last 6 years. He has continued to get re-entry permits but has to come back to the US each time it has to be renewed. He knows that he will eventually relocated permanently back to the US where the rest of his family is, but he is tired of the current hassle. He is thinking it would just be easier if he gave up his green card and came on the visa waiver program to visit his family until he is ready to come back permanently.

Is this a good plan for Kenji. There are several issues that Kenji needs to think about.

Following are the 15 things you should consider before you give up your Green Card voluntarily:

  1. If you relinquish your lawful permanent resident status but wish to regain it in the future you must qualify all over again for the status.

  2. Abandonment of lawful permanent resident status is irrevocable.

  3. After you give up Green Card and permanent residence status, you will have to apply for an appropriate visa to enter the U.S. again.

  4. Like all other foreign nationals, every time you want to come to the U.S., and you need a new visa, you will have to go to the consulate for your visa interview.

  5. Your journey (any time accumulated) towards U.S. citizenship will come to an end after you give up green card.

  6. You cannot sponsor your spouse and/or unmarried children for permanent status after giving up Green Card..

  7. Any petition you filed for your family members before you give up green card will be deemed abandoned when you terminate your green card status.

  8. After giving up green card, you will lose the right to apply for government-sponsored financial aid for education.

  9. Your Green Card gives you the ability to work for any company located in any U.S. territory, regardless of job function, hours/week, etc. (except for certain companies that for national security reasons only hire U.S. citizens). With a Green Card there is no need for employer sponsorship. However, upon giving up Green Card you will lose this right.

  10. You cannot start and run your own business or corporation after giving up Green Card. You will need to have an appropriate visa to do this.

  11. Unlike permanent residence, if you come to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, your spouse and child(ren) will lose their dependency status as soon as you lose yours (for instance, if you are in the U.S. on an H1B visa and your spouse and child(ren) are on H-4, then they will lose their status as soon as you are laid off from your H1B position). However, if you obtained a green card for your family, they will retain it even if you give up or lose your status.

  12. If you are a Green Card holder, your spouse and minor unmarried children under 21 years of age can qualify for permanent residence as dependents, and once permanent residence is granted they are allowed to stay in the U.S. with the right to work and attend school, unlike many nonimmigrant visas. On the contrary, after giving up US green card, your spouse and children will have to obtain appropriate visas to study and work except in a few visa categories.

  13. In many cases you cannot get a mortgage for home purchase if you are a nonimmigrant in the U.S. Many banks require Green Card or some other long-term visa before granting a mortgage. Many banks may charge higher rates for non green card holders for a mortgage.

  14. Changes in immigration rules may hurt your chances of obtaining a nonimmigrant visa to the U.S. whereas you do not run the risk of losing your Green Card if there changes in the immigration rules. You may lose your Green Card only when you violate the terms of your Green Card.

  15. Green Card holders receive Social Security benefits when they retire, whereas a nonimmigrant visa holder does not.


Think twice before giving up your Green Card. If you stay outside the U.S. for extended periods of time, or if you work outside the U.S., you should take considerable measures to protect your Green Card status. The benefits that you enjoy being the permanent resident of the U.S. outweigh any efforts that you may have to take to protect your permanent residence status. Keep the points discussed in this article in mind if you are thinking of giving up your Green Card voluntarily!

Now after reviewing some of the issues surrounding giving up your green card, it is wise for Kenji to do so. While the ultimate decision is up to Kenji the benefits of the green card far outweigh the current hassles that he is experiencing.

If you have questions about the pros and cons of giving up green card, consult a VisaPro immigration attorney. We will be happy to guide you through the process.

The above article is brought to you by "". VisaPro’s US Immigration Lawyer Services include H-1B, K-1 Visa, K-3, L-1, Green Card, and over 100 Immigration Services.

The information in this article is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions specific to your case, we suggest that you consult with the experienced immigration attorneys at

Visit VisaPro regularly for updates and the latest immigration news at

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