Thousands of immigrants work diligently to obtain a green card. They’ve obeyed all the laws, hoped and sometimes prayed, and waited months and sometimes years.

That’s why turning in your green card and abandoning your lawful permanent resident (LPR) status is an important decision that should not be made in haste. Before you take that step – which is permanent – discuss your other options and alternatives with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

For most green card holders, the bigger concern is involuntarily or accidentally losing LPR status. That can happen if you have been outside the United States for more than a year. An immigration officer at a port of entry may confiscate your green card and leave it to an immigration judge to make a final determination. Even prolonged, continuous visits outside the U.S. for less than a year per visit can put you at risk of losing LPR status if you do not maintain a proper residence and domicile in the United States.

By contrast, voluntary abandonment – usually for tax or travel reasons – requires a green card holder to complete Immigration Form I-407, “Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status,” and present it at an embassy or consulate abroad. By surrendering the green card, it may be possible in some cases to terminate U.S. tax obligations.

Some people are confused about the meaning of a green card and acquire one without grasping its significance. A green card is for someone who makes the U.S. his or her permanent residence, not for someone who simply wants to visit the U.S. occasionally. If a person’s primary, permanent residence is elsewhere, then a visitor visa, not a green card, is the proper document for entering the United States.

Form I-407 is not downloadable at the USCIS website; it is provided by the embassy or consulate, and each embassy, consulate, or USCIS field office abroad has its own procedure. The Mexico City Field Office posts this caveat on its website:

“The relinquishment of lawful permanent resident status is irrevocable. An individual who relinquishes lawful permanent resident status and who later wants to reclaim such status must again qualify for immigrant status and go through the entire immigration process. Therefore, one should give careful thought to relinquishing lawful permanent resident status.”

If you want or need to abandon your LPR status, or if you need or desire to obtain a green card, discuss your situation with a good immigration lawyer. Get the advice and help you need by contacting an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney as quickly as possible.