US green card holder working in Canada - Joe Grasmick

I am a citizen of the European Union and a US green card holder, married to
a US citizen. We live in New York, but we are in the process of moving to
work in Montreal. I started my employment in Canada (on a temporary work
permit) three months ago, and have been commuting once a week between
Montreal (weekdays) and New York (weekends). My wife and children are still
in New York, and they will join me in Canada in a couple of months.
I was under the impression that I should be allowed to work abroad for two
years, keeping my green card, and then return to the US. I still rent an
apartment in New York, and I have applied for the travel document (but have
not yet received it). In addition, I was hoping that spending the weekends
with my wife and children in NYC would be another point in my favor –
demonstrating that I have strong ties to the US and intend to return there.
Alas, the US border officers do not seem to share my opinion. Every time I
drive from Montreal to New York (the problem does not seem to occur at the
airport), I am asked to step inside the immigration building where I get to
be quite thoroughly interviewed by the immigration officers. I have always
been eventually allowed to proceed into the US, but on three different
occasions I have now been informed that I am misusing my green card, and I
should give it up voluntarily before it is taken away from me (which would
have serious consequences for future immigration). In fact, I am advised
that my green card is very likely to be taken away the next time I try to
cross the border into the US.
I have so far been given three different reasons (each one on different
occasion) for why my situation is problematic: 1) I drive a car registered
in Quebec, 2) my work permit is valid for up to 3 years (which raises doubts
as to my eventual return to the US), and 3) No reason.
I do not want to give up my green card. I understand that I will be required
to do so if we decide to stay in Canada for more than two years, but at this
point we plan to return before the deadline, and perhaps even earlier if our
jobs and life north of the border do not work out.
My questions are: what am I doing wrong? What can I do to keep my green card
and avoid the problems at the border? Can my green card really be taken away
from me as I'm trying to cross the border?
david ingram replies:
If you filed your I-131 form and kept a copy of the paperwork with you, you
should not have any problem.  However, the I-131 is usually only good for
one year and has to be renewed annually. If you have filed the !-131 and
paid your $165.00, carry a copy with you.
A major problem you have is the Quebec registered car.  A green card holder
resident of the US is not supposed to be able to drive that car in the USA
unless it has had US duties paid on it.  If this was your US car, keep a
copy of its old registration in the car to prove you have the right to drive
it in the USA.
Make up a BORDER KIT which consists of your lease agreement for your New
York apartment, copies of the last three years of your US tax returns and
the copy of the I-131 form filed. It should also include details of your
wife and children.
This is no guarantee.  The practical fact is that any officer at the border
can take your green card and force you to go to Immigration court to get it
back.  However, with an I-131 it would be very very unusual.  The rule for
the I-131 is that it has to have been applied for before you left the
country.  If you were working under a Canadian permit before you applied for
it you could have a problem. The details of the I-131 can be found at:
My recommendation is that you book a 1/2 hour with Joe Grasmick, the Dean of
US Immigration for a case like yours.
He really does know what he is doing and is set up beautifully for phone
consultations AND he is in a position to follow up with you as a US
immigration lawyer if you need professional help.
You pay $285.50 "in advance" for the half hour by logging in at
You can also look over his website at
My services are different.  I charge $375.00 Canadian for an hour and deal
with taxes and immigration but do not act as a lawyer for your immigration.
I do help with NAFTA visas in and out of Canada and the US.  AND, we
specialize in the kind of tax return you will have this year as a resident
of both countries so you should be sending us your tax return.
Note that the rules for where to file your I-131 can be found at:'I131' The
addresses for some states changed on April 1st, 2005.
And you can find the details for I-131 at
The form does work.  One of my clients came back to Canada for eight years
and renewed his I-131 every year.  After eight years he returned to the USA
in 1998 and he and his family are now US citizens. His only problem was that
when he and his wife went to go back, their two children born in Canada
suddenly became a problem because they were no included on the I-131 or his
original "green card" being but a gleam in daddy's eyes.
Answers to this and other similar  questions can be obtained free on Air
every Sunday morning.
Every Sunday at 9:00 AM on 600AM in Vancouver, I, david ingram am a
permanent guest on Fred Snyder of Dundee Wealth Managers' LIVE talk show
Those outside of the Lower Mainland will be able to listen on the internet
at <>
Call (604) 280-0600 to have your question answered.  BC listeners can also
call 1-866-778-0600.
Callers to the show and questioners on this board can also attend the
Thursday Night seminars on finance and making your Canadian Mortgage
Interest deductible.
David Ingram's US/Canada Services
US / Canada / Mexico tax, Immigration and working Visa Specialists
US / Canada Real Estate Specialists
4466 Prospect Road
North Vancouver,  BC, CANADA, V7N 3L7
Res (604) 980-3578 Cell (604) 657-8451
(604) 980-0321
New email to davidingram at <mailto:davidingram at> <>
Disclaimer:  This question has been answered without detailed information or
consultation and is to be regarded only as general comment.   Nothing in
this message is or should be construed as advice in any particular
circumstances. No contract exists between the reader and the author and any
and all non-contractual duties are expressly denied. All readers should
obtain formal advice from a competent and appropriately qualified legal
practitioner or tax specialist in connection with personal or business
affairs such as at <> . If you forward
this message, this disclaimer must be included."
Be ALERT,  the world needs more "lerts"
This from "ask an income tax and immigration expert" from
<>  or <>  or <> . David Ingram deals on a
daily basis with expatriate tax returns with:
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Hope this helps.


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