"I lived in the U.S. for eight years and had a green card during five years of that time. I was extremely lonely for home and I made the move back to Ireland last year, and believe it or not I got a job and haven’t regretted my choice for one second. But I still have the green card and I don’t want it anymore. I would like to return to the U.S. for vacations in the future. I have not been back since I left for good and I’m not sure how I would go about returning. Should I use the green card? Can I get rid of the green card? Am I still obligated to pay American taxes while I have the green card? I would like to cut my ties to the U.S., but still have the right to visit.”
It sounds like you’re done with the U.S. for good, in which case you can renounce your green card and make future visits here as a tourist.
Did you ever consider applying for U.S. citizenship, just to keep your future options open? That’s still a possibility as you’ve had a green card for five years, but it would require a return to the U.S. on your part which doesn’t seem part of your current plans.
The process for renouncing your green card is straightforward enough. You will have to complete an I-407 form, which can be done either through the U.S. Embassy in Dublin or at a Customs and Border Patrol inspection area at the airport where you will present yourself for inspection into the U.S. (Dublin and Shannon airports both have CBP inspection posts.)
It would likely be much easier to complete the process prior to traveling, so you should get started via the embassy. The I-407 can be downloaded online, and there is no filing fee.
The I-407, titled “Abandonment of Lawful Resident Status,” is a two page form that seeks to ensure that the alien has voluntarily surrendered status. Once it is received by the embassy you can expect to be called for an interview to make sure that you are aware of the consequences of surrendering your status, and that you are doing so of your own free will.
You will receive an approved I-407 which you should keep with you at all times when you enter the U.S. in the future so that your status as a tourist going forward is officially clarified.
After you formally surrender your green card you will be able to enter the U.S. using the visa waiver program for a period of up to 90 days. And you will be free of any U.S. tax obligations going forward.
You ask about U.S. tax issues, even though you are no longer a resident of the country. Technically all legal permanent residents of the U.S. are still subject to federal tax laws, even if they live abroad.
However, there are all kinds of requirements and income sources/stipulations that can and often do negate the tax burden. Green card holders such as yourself who wish to be totally free of U.S. tax commitments should definitely make a point of completing the I-407.
Those wishing to know more about U.S. income taxes as they apply to aliens both resident here and abroad should visit www.irs.gov and download publication 519, “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.”
Originally published in 2012.