Brief Facts - The petitioner, a Pakistani national, argued that despite multiple long absences from the United States, she did not intend to abandon her status, which also served as the foundation for her husband's and child's entry into the United States.<format changed>
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that intent alone is insufficient to maintain LPR status and that her extended periods in Pakistan, including her final trip that lasted a year and three months, supported the BIA's finding that she had abandoned her LPR status. The court also noted that the petitioner, at the end of a long and exhausting international flight, fearful of losing her LPR status, had lied in one instance to border officials about the date of her last visit to the United States.
Circuit Judge Jane B. Stranch dissented, noting among other things that errors by U.S. immigration officials were responsible for at least some of the delays in her returning, and that the petitioner's daughter in Pakistan had emotional and physical problems that compelled her to spend time in Pakistan to care for her.
The main lesson learned from Lateef v. Holder is that waiting outside the US with your loved ones, until they can immigrate to the US, can result in abandonment of your green card. Due to the tremendous backlogs in the family-based immigration system, it can take years before an LPR can sponsor a spouse or child to the US, thus compelling the LPR to be absent from the US until such time that the family members are issued immigrant visas. The case highlights the tensions between a global world involving frequent travel, and where families live apart in different countries, and an insular immigration system.