If, upon returning to the United States after a prolonged absence, a permanent resident fails to convince the customs officer that they maintained their status, they may be detained in the custody of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), or they may be released conditionally, placed in removal proceedings, and referred to the Immigration Court to decide whether they are admissible to the United States and whether they abandoned their status. If the Immigration Court finds that they abandoned their LPR status, and they wish to remain in the U.S., they will need to file an application for defense against removal or re-file an application for permanent residence, assuming they are eligible.
In other cases, the officer at U.S. customs may simply confiscate the permanent resident's green card at the port of entry, deny them entry, and force them to return to their home country or last country of departure. The customs officer may also give the person a Form I-407 (Abandonment of Permanent Residence Status) to sign, sometimes in exchange for being admitted to the United States as a temporary visitor.
In our next two articles we will discuss ways to avoid unintentional abandonment of LPR status. The first article will explain the potential perils of signing Form I-407.