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Maintaining Green Card Status

Once an individual is granted lawful permanent residence, that person maintains their status indefinitely. A green card holder is permitted to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis, but there are several ways that you can lose your status.
Unlike a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident can be removed from the U.S. A green card is not absolute. It is subject to revocation for a number of reasons including fraud, criminal activity and/or abandonment. For more information on revoking a green card, please check out our blog.
In addition, there are specific rights and responsibilities associated with lawful permanent residence. A green card holder is protected by all the laws of the United States but is required to:

  • Obey all the laws of the United States, and localities;
  • File your income tax returns and report your income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities;
  • Support the democratic form of government and not attempt to change the government through illegal means; and
  • Register with the Selective Service if you are a male ages 18-25.

There are also situations that could put a green card holder at risk of “abandoning” their status. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may find that you have abandoned your permanent resident status if you:

  • Move to another country intending to live there permanently;
  • Remain outside the U.S. for more than 183 days without obtaining a re-entry permit or returning resident visa (additional conditions may apply);
  • Remain outside the U.S. for more than two years after issuance of a re-entry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa;
  • Fail to file income tax returns while living outside the U.S. for any period of time;
  • Declare yourself a “non-resident” on your tax returns; or
  • At any inspection, fail to establish to the satisfaction of a U.S. Immigration Officer your intent to maintain your permanent resident status.

If you are planning to be outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, please contact our office to ensure a plan is in place to preserve your permanent resident status. Also, check out our blog for more information about protecting your status as a lawful permanent resident.