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My wife and I are green card holders. She left the US in June 2018 to spend some time looking after her mother in Europe who was diagnosed with cancer. I left the US in July to join her for a month and we planned to travel a bit around Europe before returning to the US. Our rental lease ended in July so we didn't bother extending it as we wanted to find a new place when we returned. Also I had recently left my employer and was working on my own project which was one of the reasons we decided to travel for a month. 1 week after I arrived in Europe my wife was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer and needed to start chemotherapy immediately. We effectively have been stuck in Europe ever since. I have now received an offer for an Executive position in Europe and so we are now planning to move permanently to Europe.

We are planning to return to the US at the end of May to collect up our things before finally moving to Europe. We will need to give up our Green Card.

My question though is will we even be able to get back into the US? My wife has been out of the country for a few days shy of 1 year (I did return to the US for a few days in September). We have no proof of a house and no proof of employement. Both of our return flights from Europe lapsed so we will be returning to the US on a return ticket back to Europe. And on top of that our intention is to abandon our green card status after this trip.

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    Have you considered abandoning PR status before your trip, and entering the US on a visitor visa or visa waiver? – Patricia Shanahan May 4 at 9:23
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Yes she will be able to travel to the USA on her permanent resident card although she’s been away an extended period. Immigration at the airport in the USA have no choice but to admit her because abandonment of permanent residency is only determined by an immigration judge.

The worst which can happen is that at the airport immigration charges her with abandoning her status and ask her to appear before an immigration judge to determine if that is the case.

In my opinion the probability of this happening is up in the air. If you tell them at the airport you intend to abandon permanent residency, the most likely outcome is they make her fill out the forms there and then grant her temporary admission/parole to the USA for a few months to do what you’re coming for.

It is extremely unlikely she will be refused entry. They actually don’t have the power to do so to a permanent resident although they might hold you up for a few extra minutes.

Alternatively you can abandon the green card before your trip and use ESTA or apply for a visa.

Reference

I personally know a few people who left the USA to return to my home country for good but things didn’t work out and they returned without a returning resident visa, sometimes two years after leaving. None of them were even put into removal proceedings, go figure!

Applying for ESTA, or any travel document (vacation) as an ex US Permanent Resident Card holder

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