Urban legend has it that any green card holder overseas for any length of time has to visit the USA at least once a year to maintain their status. My wife had not visited the USA for three years when we came back to the USA in 2004, so we had to apply for a green card for her again.
This time, we were bound and determined for her to come back to the USA within a year. So after we left the USA for the Middle East in 2005, we made sure to visit the USA in 2006. She went to Los Angeles to visit our son and visit the immigration office there to find out why she still had not received the green card we had applied for in 2004.
Upon entering the USA my wife was grilled by a customs official at her port of entry. When she visited the immigration office, she was rudely treated by the woman supposedly “serving” her, and advised to apply for a document called a travel document. Apparently part of the holdup in my wife’s case was the failure of the customs agent to stamp my wife’s passport upon her entry to the USA in 2004. The immigration officer in LA refused to assist my wife in this matter and sent her on her way after the document she supposedly needed.
My wife applied for this document, but then got some advice from an immigration attorney that this was the wrong thing to do in her case. Fearing a waste of several hundred dollars, my wife cancelled the check. She was subsequently billed by the Department of Homeland Security for this fee.
My wife returned to Finland, having being treated badly by US government officials who should have helped her, and in debt for a fee she should not have paid. In addition, she wasted the airfare to come back to the USA since she made no further progress in obtaining the green card which had been approved in 2004. Her case was now two years old, and we were still in a pickle.