Obtaining your green card is a challenging task. For most, the journey is long and requires years of work. So, when your green card finally arrives, it’s time to celebrate.
However, as a green card holder, your relationship with the U.S. government involves
responsibilities that go beyond what’s required to obtain your card.
This guide will serve as a roadmap to help you understand the responsibilities of U.S. citizens and how you can maintain compliance with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This information will prepare you to keep your status and pursue citizenship.
Here are the six essential U.S. immigration rules for green card holders.
It might seem obvious, but any criminal behavior can result in the U.S. government initiating removal proceedings, refusing re-entry into the U.S., revoking permanent resident status, and terminating U.S. citizenship eligibility.
This includes all serious crimes like aggravated felonies, murder, rape, sexual assault against a child, illegal trafficking, and crimes of moral turpitude. However, any violation of the law, regardless of the severity, could potentially impact your status as a green card holder.
You could lose permanent resident status if you provide inaccurate information to secure immigration benefits or mislead any government agency. You must also avoid falsely asserting U.S. citizenship or participating in federal, state, or local elections exclusively designated for U.S. citizens.
Other illegal activities like engaging in polygamy, domestic violence incidents, or failing to pay child support or spousal support could result in losing your permanent resident status.
Finally, it’s worth noting that even habitual intoxication or frequent use of illicit substances could have severe consequences for your status. While these behaviors may not lead directly to criminal prosecution, they can be seen as evidence of poor moral character, a factor the U.S. government considers in many immigration decisions.
Abandoning your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) means that you have decided to live outside the United States permanently, thereby giving up your rights and privileges as a permanent resident. This is a serious decision and can have significant consequences, including the loss of the ability to live and work in the U.S. and potential difficulties in obtaining visas or other immigration benefits in the future.
One key factor in determining whether or not you abandoned your status is spending long periods outside the U.S. If you need to be outside the U.S. for longer than a year, you should apply for a re-entry permit before you leave (you cannot re-enter the country without it). This document, valid for up to two years, proves that you did not intend to abandon your status.
Even a trip between six months and a year could indicate abandonment if there is other evidence that you did not intend to make the U.S. your permanent home. This evidence could include maintaining significant ties to a country outside the U.S., such as owning property, having a job, or having immediate family members (like a spouse or children) in that country.
Other actions that could show your intent to abandon your status include:
In other words, if your actions indicate that you do not intend to make the U.S. your permanent home, you may be considered to have abandoned your LPR status.
Ideally, you should maintain as many ties to the U.S. as possible. This can include having a U.S. address, keeping U.S. bank accounts, paying U.S. taxes, owning property in the U.S., and having family in the U.S.
As a lawful permanent resident, you are required to file income tax returns and report your income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and your state, city, or local tax department, if required.
In addition to potentially losing your LPR status, failing to file tax returns can also have other serious consequences. The IRS can charge penalties and interest on unpaid taxes, which can add up quickly. In some cases, failure to file tax returns or pay taxes can lead to criminal charges.
If you realize you have failed to file a required tax return, it’s generally advised to file as soon as possible. The IRS often provides payment plans and other options for taxpayers who need help to afford their entire tax bill. If you’re in this situation, consider consulting a tax professional to understand your options.
If you need help with your taxes, you can get free assistance at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. These centers are located in communities across the United States.
The Selective Service System is a government agency in the United States that maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription, also known as the draft. The United States does not currently have a military draft, but men between 18 and 26 must register.
Failure to register for the Selective Service may have serious consequences. For example, men who do not register could be prosecuted and, if convicted, fined up to $250,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both. In addition, failing to register may make men ineligible for certain benefits, like federal student aid, federal job training, and federal employment.
For lawful permanent residents, registering with the Selective Service System is crucial to maintaining their status in the U.S. Males who obtained their immigrant visa or adjusted their status between 18 and 26 may have automatically been registered with the Selective Service. If so, they should have received information in the mail stating they are registered. They can check their record on the Selective Service website if they are unsure if they are registered.
Registering with the Selective Service does not mean you are joining the military. When you register, you simply tell the government you are available to serve in the U.S. armed forces. Permanent residents and U.S. citizens do not have to serve in the armed forces unless they want to.
You must inform the USCIS about any change of address. This is a requirement under U.S. law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 265(a).
Not only is it important to keep your address current to receive information from the U.S. government related to your immigration status, but it also demonstrates your intention to make the U.S. your permanent home.
You can update your address on the USCIS website.
Don’t forget to inform other relevant institutions about your change of address, such as your employer, school, bank, and the U.S. Postal Service.
Green cards are valid for ten years. If your card expires within six months, you should apply to renew your green card using form I-90. If you received a conditional green card after marriage, you’ll have to renew it after two years (typically 90 days before it expires).
You’ve come so far on your path to obtaining your green card, and it’s essential to safeguard your hard-earned status. As a green card holder, your relationship with the U.S. government involves critical responsibilities. The rules are complex and ever-evolving, from abiding by the law to ensuring you don’t unintentionally abandon your status.
Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. is here to assist you. Our experienced attorneys specialize in immigration law and can guide you through the intricacies of maintaining your status, abiding by immigration rules, and even pursuing U.S. citizenship.
Contact Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. for a consultation today!View Similar Articles