A Complete Guide to Maintaining Permanent Resident Status in the United States
Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.
Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from the Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: November 04, 2021, Last Updated on: November 24, 2021.
The prospect of not maintaining lawful permanent resident status is a common concern among green card holders. Thankfully, there are a few things an immigrant can do to preserve their status as lawful permanent residents.
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Maintaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status
Getting permanent resident status in the U.S. is not a simple task. That is why after you get it, you must ensure you maintain it.
The immigration laws of the nation assume that an individual admitted into the U.S. as an immigrant will permanently live in the U.S. So, to ensure you maintain your legal permanent resident status, there are a few things you need to know.
How to Keep Permanent Resident Status in the U.S.
If you are a frequent international traveler, you could be putting your permanent resident card in jeopardy. Why so?
Although a lawful permanent resident can travel outside the United States and return, there are certain limitations when it comes to extended absences. Those staying outside of the U.S. for more than one year who did not file their re-entry permit application and obtained the permit from an official government organization before leaving can lose their green card. In that case, their permanent resident card can become technically invalid.
One can lose their permanent resident status if staying outside of the United States for less than a year if he or she takes up residence in some other country.
But, a re-entry permit can help establish that they didn’t have an intention to abandon their status and leave the United States indefinitely. It will also allow them to apply for admission to the U.S. after traveling abroad for up to two years so they won’t have to apply for a returning resident visa. A re-entry permit is typically valid for 2 years from the date of its issuance.
In short, remaining outside the U.S. for more than one year may lead to loss of lawful permanent residency. You have to show continuous residence. Our immigration law professionals explain the basics of doing so below.
Understand Permanent Resident Status: How to Obtain Lawful Permanent Resident Status
There are a number of ways in which one can obtain permanent residency in the United States. They include:
A Petition From the Employer
The employment-based green card under the EB application system allows for at least five select categories, abbreviated as EB-1, EB-2, etc.
Marriage to a U.S. Citizen
If you happen to be married or plan to get married to a citizen of the United States, you stand a chance of getting an immigrant visa to the United States. The status of your spouse will determine who you can bring to work and live in the U.S.
Sponsorship by a Close Relative
If your close relative is a U.S. citizen or holds legal permanent resident status, you are likely eligible to live permanently in the U.S.
The United States Department of State Diversity Lottery Program
The diversity lottery program gives chances to people across the world to apply for green cards. The program allows up to 55,000 immigrant visas to be awarded every year.
What Are the Residency Requirements for Permanent Residents?
Once you become a green card holder in the U.S., you maintain your permanent residence status until you apply for naturalization or lose or abandon your LPR status. Here are some of the main ways in which you can maintain your resident status.
- If you intend to leave the United States to visit other countries, you are required to be away for less than six months to maintain your LPR status. If you decide to be away for more than six months, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be alerted. If you are outside the U.S. for extended periods of more than 12 months, it leads to a rebuttable presumption that the permanent resident status has been abandoned.
- Ensure you have enough evidence to show that you still have family ties in the United States, assets and accounts in the U.S., a tax return filed as a resident alien, and any other evidence showing intent to live in the United States permanently.
- If you believe you will be away for an extended period, be sure to pre-apply for reentry permits. Reentry permits will help you avoid difficult questions at the border as you try to get your way back into the U.S. It is advisable to file the re-entry permit application while still in the U.S., as you may be denied entry without a valid reentry permit.
- If you intend to pass through or travel in other countries, be sure to check with the prospective consulate or embassy to know the visa requirements for your nationality, as your green card only affects your status in the U.S.
- Once you become eligible, be sure to apply for U.S. citizenship. As per federal laws, foreign nationals with permanent residence status cannot get federal jobs until they apply for citizenship.
- Lawful permanent residents should always file their federal tax returns as U.S. residents unless advised otherwise by a qualified tax professional.
Benefits of Maintaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status in the United Status
One of the significant benefits of having a permanent resident status is that you cannot be deported back to your country of origin. A green card is not temporary and cannot be revoked with any potential changes to immigration laws. However, you can lose your green card if you are involved in a crime.
You can sponsor other family members for green cards since the United States prioritizes the family members of permanent residents. Examples of eligible family members include children, spouses, siblings, and parents.
Another benefit of a permanent residence is that you will be eligible for U.S. federal benefits such as education assistance and Social Security. With an LPR status, you can apply for government-sponsored education, and if you preserve residence enough, you are likely to receive Social Security benefits.
You also can engage in the political process if you wish to. This means all levels of politics, such as the local council and state and federal elections ranging from the governor to the president. You can volunteer or give your financial contributions to the candidate of your choice.
Green card holders can apply for a variety of jobs around the U.S. permanent residents have more job opportunities than those persons with work visas.
What Are the Naturalization Requirements to Qualify for a Lawful Permanent Residence?
For you to qualify for naturalization, there are specific requirements that you must meet, which include:
- You must have continuously resided in the United States for five years or more. But this will differ from a spouse who is married to a U.S. citizen. In that case, they must have been a lawful permanent resident for a continuous period of three years.
- Must be 18 years and above and must be a green card holder.
- Must be physically present for a continuous period of more than 30 months or 18 months based on your unique application.
- Must have shown good character and respect for the law.
Learn More About What You Should Do to Maintain Your Permanent Resident Status
A green card holder traveling sometimes for a short time probably won’t raise any suspicions with the USCIS. But, the problem occurs when these trips become too frequent or lengthy, especially compared to the periods spent in the United States. However, taking steps to establish the trip as a temporary absence can help keep your green card. Those whose permanent residence is rescinded may even be placed in removal proceedings.
If you expect to have a prolonged absence from the U.S., whether you want to naturalize your citizenship or apply for a re-entry permit, it is ideal to have an immigration attorney at hand to guide you through the necessary processes.
Even for foreign nationals who require assistance with the EB-5 program, an EB-5 lawyer with years of experience will help you with your matter. Contact Manji Law today to learn more about your options.
Atlanta Immigration Resources
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- Atlanta Immigration Court
- Complete Guide to I-485
- Folkston ICE Processing Center
- Georgia Immigration
- Guide to I-765
- How Long Does it Take to Bring a Spouse to the USA?
- Immigration Attorney Atlanta
- Irwin County Detention Center
- Stewart Detention Center
- The Hidden Impact of ICE Deportation
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