So, You Got Your Green Card. Now What?

The road to this moment may have been long and arduous. You might have waited several months or many years. Now, you likely want to do everything you can to keep this status and maximize the benefits. Here are just a few things to keep in mind as you live your new life as a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Your New Rights—and Responsibilities

As a green card holder, you can now live and work permanently in the United States. While some jobs will only be available to U.S. citizens, your immigration status will usually not restrict your employment options. You will also be protected by all local, state, and federal laws, regardless of where you live in the United States.

However, you must take great care to:

  • Obey the law. Certain crimes (including immigration fraud) may put you at risk of a removal proceeding.
  • Notify USCIS of an address change. You must do this within ten days of moving. Failing to do so may trigger deportation.
  • Register with the Selective Service (if you are male and between 18 and 25 years of age).
  • File your income tax returns.

Is Your Permanent Residence Conditional?

There are two main categories of individuals who receive conditional green cards: investors and the newly married. Conditional permanent residence expires in two years, upon which the green card holder must apply to remove conditions on their permanent residence using Form I-751.

Depending on the green card holder’s category, this step gives USCIS another opportunity to assess:

  • The validity of the individual’s marriage; or
  • Whether the individual’s commercial investment satisfies all requirements.

If you meet the requirements and remove the conditions on your permanent residence within the appropriate time frame, USCIS should issue you a regular green card.

Renewing Your Green Card

Every ten years, you must renew your permanent residence by replacing your green card. The USCIS website includes instructions for replacing your green card, which you will do whether your green card is expiring, lost, stolen, or otherwise invalid. You will need to use Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, which you can file either online or by mail.

Take Caution with Extended Trips Abroad

As a lawful permanent resident, you will have a greater ability to travel abroad without jeopardizing your status. However, trips that last longer than a year can cause USCIS to assume you have “abandoned your permanent resident status,” and you might not be able to return to the United States. The one-year threshold is a general rule, and they might make this decision even if you return within a year if they are not convinced you have made a permanent home in the United States.

Factors that will support or demonstrate your intention to reside permanently in the United States include the following:

  • Relationships with U.S. family, friends, and community members
  • U.S. employment
  • Maintained residence in the U.S.
  • U.S. bank accounts
  • U.S. driver’s license
  • Assets in the U.S. (a business, real estate, etc.)
  • Income tax returns filed with the IRS

Brief trips abroad will typically not cause a problem, especially if you can show the above factors.

Begin Your Path Toward Citizenship

Only lawful permanent residents can qualify for citizenship. You must, however, hold a valid green card for either five years or, if you’re married to a U.S. citizen, three years. Learn more about the requirements for naturalization here.

High-Quality Support Throughout Your Journey

Our attorneys at Kanu & Associates, P.C. have more than 15 years of experience in immigration law. We know what it takes to not only obtain a green card, but also to maintain your status and prepare for the naturalization process. We provide a wide range of immigration services, personalizing our strategies to meet your unique needs.

Put our skills and experience to work for your future. Call (602) 353-7795 or send us an online message to schedule your consultation today.

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