Lawyer warns legal US residents of penalty for staying out too long

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A well-known Antiguan attorney who practices in the United States (US) is warning citizens of Antigua & Barbuda that a harsher regime of immigration policies means they may be stripped of their lawful permanent US resident status if they stay away too long.
The advice comes from attorney Ralph Bowen, who is urging Antiguans and Barbudans to regularize their physical residency in the US if they wish to keep that residency status on paper.
“When you try to enter the United States having remained outside of the US for a year or more, the Customs/ border control/Immigration officer will take your Green Card from you.
“Sometimes in the past they would give you a fine and say ‘don’t do it again’. Now that is off the table. If you have remained outside for more than a year, then it is presumed that you have abandoned your lawful permanent resident status,” Bowen said.
However, he noted that the presumption was a “rebuttable,” as the removal of an individual’s green card can be challenged and the onus remained on the government of the US to prove their case that one has abandoned their residency.
“There are justifiable reasons for why you would have remained outside of the country for more than a year, but you are going to have to make that case to them in court,” Bowen said warning, “Just based on scheduling, it may take a year to two years for your case to be fully adjudicated.”
US President Donald Trump recently made an executive order aimed at removing undocumented immigrants from within the US. In response, Bowen is advising Antiguans and Barbudans in the US to seek legal advice about their immigration status.
“The question really becomes whether you are going to seek legal assistance. The advice to the various consulates would be that they reach out to the various sections of the Antiguan community and advise citizens to seek proper legal advice from qualified immigration attorneys.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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