I am a Canadian citizen and US green card holder. After receiving my green card I have been almost constantly away, studying in Europe for the last five years, and coming back to the US to visit my parents every 6 months to a year. I never applied for a travel document before leaving the US, so every time I come back, I have to wait for several hours at the airport before they threaten to invalidate my green card status and I try to convince them that I intend to return to the US after my studies. I have apparently been successful so far, but now that I'm actually finished with my studies and don't have any plan to move back to the US, I'm worried about what will happen on my next trip (which is very soon, and it's been more than a year since my last one).

Technically speaking I believe I have the right to enter the US just as a Canadian citizen, but as soon as they find out I have a US green card, they mark me for further questioning. My question is, what is the best approach to take next time:

  • Should I attempt to hide the fact that I have a green card (and only show my Canadian passport)?

  • Or should I show both documents and just accept that I will have to spend several hours waiting to be questioned as usual, and end up losing my green card (which to be honest, I don't mind losing too much)?

  • Something else?

With the first option, I believe that technically my green card is not even a valid document for entry to the US at this point, so I don't think it would be unethical to not even mention it at all (or maybe not even have it on hand?).

With the second option, can I be sure that, even if they invalidate my green card, that I will still be allowed to enter the US on the basis of my Canadian passport?

Related question: Will a green card holder have problems returning to the USA after more than six months away? I believe the answers there make it clear that my green card is not a valid basis for re-entry to the US after more than a year.

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    Since however here the OP intends to travel, not to move, it is well on-topic @pnuts. Voting to leave open. – mts Dec 18 '16 at 15:06
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    Note that there is a method to voluntarily abandon US permanent resident status, and since you're no longer planning to reside in the US, this would seem to be an expedient way to resolve the issue. The linked article seems pretty sanguine about your prospects to travel to the US after doing so, but you may want to consult an immigration attorney to be sure. – Michael Seifert Dec 18 '16 at 15:07
  • @MichaelSeifert, thanks, that link was an interesting and relevant read. I guess my main question is, if I do give up my permanent residence status, will I still be allowed to enter the country as a Canadian citizen? Or is it possible I might be deported? – greencardquestion Dec 18 '16 at 16:29
  • @pnuts, my question is not about moving to the US, that is exactly what I don't want to do. Essentially I just want to be sure that if I give up my green card I will still be allowed to enter the US, just for a one month visit (I have a return flight booked). Therefore I don't view it as an immigration question. Anyway I was not aware of the Expatriates Stack Exchange website, if you consider it more suited to the question, please feel free to migrate it there. – greencardquestion Dec 18 '16 at 16:34
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    Yes, you can still enter the US if you voluntarily give up your permanent resident status. – Michael Hampton Dec 18 '16 at 16:52

At this point, with your extended absences away from the US, and your intent to live outside the US, your green card is effectively invalid. You would now have an even harder time convincing a CBP officer that you will return to live in the US when you clearly aren't.

Given that, I would suggest voluntarily surrendering your green card the next time you enter the US. Don't wait for them to ask about it, because then they'll think you are trying to hide something. When you surrender it, they may actually take it away or they might clip a corner and give it back (either way the result is the same). Then they will (hopefully) process and admit you as a Canadian citizen without any further drama.

Consider that even if you conceal your green card this time (and that they'll probably already know you have one anyway), you'll have the exact same problem next time you enter the US.

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    You can also proactively surrender it at a US consulate at your current location. This should get the Green Card out of the way and will not create a lengthy delay when you enter the US next time. It may also help, if you ever want to go for a Green Card again, since you played "nicely". – Hilmar Dec 18 '16 at 20:58

Assuming you only want to stay in the US for a short time, simply showing your Canadian passport will be enough to legally get you entry. You are not obliged to mention your Green Card status unless asked. However make sure you answer any questions truthfully, especially if asked about any visas or such like. They probably know about it anyway. This approach will get you into the US for your short term visit, which is the question you asked.

Whether this approach will affect your Green Card status, or what effect your long absence will have, is off topic on this forum, and if you are concerned you should ask about it on our Expatriates site.

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