You worked hard and went through the long process of getting your green card. Whether you obtained it through an employment based petition or a family based petition, the process is often time consuming and arduous. Once you obtain your green card, or permanent resident card, there are certain rules you need to follow to make sure it is not revoked. Certain circumstances can cause you to lose your Lawful Permanent Resident status, and we will share some of these below.
Register for Selective Service!
Men between the ages of 19-25 must register with the US Selective Service program. You may register online at: https://www.sss.gov/RegVer/wfRegistration.aspx. This is a civic duty to the United States for US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. Selective Service allows the US government to assess the possible military strength of the US if a draft were to be instituted, and if necessary (through the reinstatement of the draft), call serviceable men into wartime service for the United States.
Always carry your green card with you!
The law is clear in that it states “Every alien in the United States shall be issued a certificate of alien registration or an alien registration receipt card in such form and manner and at such time as shall be prescribed under regulations.” It also says, “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him. Any alien who fails to comply with [these] provisions shall be guilty of a misdemeanor”.
This is especially important in America since the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Law enforcement is more strict about immigration law, and if you are stopped or questioned by law enforcement officials, you need to be able to prove your permanent resident status. Not only does it help to prove to the police or other officials that you are in the US legally, but it is also the law that you carry your green card at all times. If your card is lost or stolen, replace it immediately by filing a Form I-90.
File your Taxes!
Always file your taxes every year. You are considered a resident of the US once you have your green card, so you should use the 1040 form that US citizens do to file your federal taxes. You also must file any local or state taxes as necessary based on where you live in the United States. Not filing your taxes and paying them as necessary can threaten your Lawful Permanent Resident status.
Maintain your Permanent Resident Status!
If you leave the United States for long periods of time or cannot show your intent to live permanently in the US, you may be at risk of losing your Permanent Resident Status. If you think you will be out of the US for more than 12 months, you should apply for a re-entry permit before you leave the country by filing USCIS form I-131. Having a re-entry permit does not guarantee you will be readmitted to the US, but it does show that your overseas visit was only temporary.
Register your address with the US Department of Homeland Security!
Any time you move, you need to register your address with the Department of Homeland Security. You can do this either by filing USCIS form AR-11, or by going to www.uscis.gov and filling out the electronic change of address form. If you have any pending applications or petitions with USCIS, it is highly advised that you use the electronic tool, as it will automatically update your address with all of your pending cases. If you choose to use the paper form, and have petitions or applications pending, you also need to call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 and notify Customer Service so that they can update your address on any pending cases.
Obey the Law!
Any major infraction of US law can be a problem for a Lawful Permanent Resident. You could be removed from the country, not allowed re-entry if you were to leave the US, or lose your eligibility for US citizenship. Crimes that may affect your permanent resident status include:
* Any ‘Aggravated Felony’, crimes of violence which are felonies with a one year prison term.
* Sexual Abuse of a Child
* Illegal Drug, Firearm or Human trafficking
* Crimes of Moral Turpitude, such as theft, fraud, blackmail, extortion, negligence, crimes where serious physical harm is caused through recklessness, or crimes of sexual misconduct.
There are also serious consequences for Lawful Permanent Residents if you:
* Lie in order to secure immigration benefits for yourself or others
* Claim to be a US Citizen when you are not
* Vote in an election where you are required to be a US Citizen to vote
* Are a ‘habitual drunkard’ – someone who is drunk or uses illegal drugs most of the time
* Practice Polygamy
* Fail to support your family or to pay child support as ordered
* Participate in Domestic Violence
* Lie to receive public benefits
* Fail to file tax returns when necessary
* Fail to register for Selective Service if you are a male between 19-26
* Help someone illegally enter the US
Renew your Green Card!
After 10 years, your Green Card will expire (Just the card, not your Lawful Permanent Resident status). You should renew it by filing USCIS form I-90 or consider naturalization to attain your US Citizenship.
USCIS has prepared a helpful pamphlet that includes much of the information presented here, as well as other useful tips about living in the United States, including sections on education, history, and safety, here: http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-618.pdf.