Maintaining Your Green Card
You can potentially maintain your legal permanent residency in the United States for the entire length of your life if you have a green card, as its name suggests. If you actually want to make your residence in the United States permanent, you must fulfill a few requirements. To begin with, you must not transgress certain criminal or immigration rules, such as the one requiring you to notify U.S. immigration officials of any address changes within ten days. Additionally, you cannot give up living permanently in the United States. Failure to abide by the applicable rules may result in removal from the United States. Here, we’ll give an outline of these problems.
Immigrants Who Break The Law Risk Being Deported
The most frequent way for someone to forfeit their right to a U.S. green card is through criminal activity, whether that activity takes place domestically or abroad. Contrary to popular belief, a crime need not be serious or a felony in order for someone to be deportable.
A person can be deported from the United States, for instance, if they assist someone in entering the country illegally, engage in domestic violence, have even a minor amount of drug possession, or commit any other morally repugnant crime (such as fraud, theft, a crime with the intent of doing great bodily harm, or a sex offense).
Some of these offenses are misdemeanors, which may not carry a jail sentence. The crimes that automatically result in deportation are not listed in a defined list. Consult an immigration attorney in addition to a criminal lawyer if you are ever arrested for anything to learn if and how to prevent deportation (deportation). Few criminal lawyers genuinely comprehend the immigration rules as well as immigration lawyers do, despite the fact that criminal lawyers are required to inform clients about the immigration repercussions of entering a guilty plea. Criminal attorneys who are unfamiliar with immigration laws could advise you to enter a guilty plea in order to escape punishment, such as jail time, without recognizing that doing so could result in your deportation.
An Immigrant May Be Deported If They Violate a Civil Law
For some offenses that do not violate criminal laws, an individual may also be expelled from the United States. For instance, you may be deported if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finds out that you obtained your green card through a fictitious (fake) marriage or any other sort of fraud.
An Immigrant May Become Deportable If They Fail To Notify The U.S. Government Of Address Changes
If an immigrant fails to notify USCIS of a change of address within ten days of moving, they may possibly be deported from the country. In the past, USCIS hardly ever took any action in this regard. But as security concerns have grown, USCIS has started applying this regulation more frequently to those it wants to deport from the country. To inform USCIS of your address change, use their online tool.
Making One’s Home Outside the U.S. Can Make an Immigrant Deportable
A common misconception is that all you need to do to maintain your green card is enter the country at least once a year. The truth is that if you ever leave the United States with the purpose of relocating permanently to another country, you risk losing your residency in the United States. The border guards will observe your conduct if you attempt to return to the country and hunt for clues that your true residency has not been in the US.
As a general rule, if you have a green card and leave the country for longer than a year, you can face challenges upon your return. This is so because, according to the American authorities, a stay abroad longer than a year may imply a prospective abandoning of one’s residence here. Additionally, because the green card automatically becomes ineligible for travel after a year away, U.S. border agents are essentially forced to carefully examine your case. Even if you do return earlier than a year, you can encounter issues. It is advised to return within six months to avoid a thorough check.
However, if you stay outside the country for longer than a year, you do not immediately forfeit your claim for a green card. You might be able to argue to preserve your permanent resident status if your absence was only meant to be temporary—for instance, if you departed for a few months to care for your sick father but ended up caring for him until he passed away for more than a year.
The Commuter Exception
Green card holders who regularly travel to the United States from Canada or Mexico for employment may continue to do so even if they are actually living abroad. If you inform USCIS that you intend to reside on the other side of the U.S. border, they will grant you commuter status.
Returning Resident Visas
If you leave the country for an extended period of time without obtaining a reentry permit you must apply for an SB-1 visa as a returning resident at a U.S. consulate abroad. You have to persuade the American consulate officer that your absence was brief and you never intended to leave your residence in the United States. These approvals are optional, so the decision-maker is essentially doing you a favor and has the right to reject your request.
You will need to provide proof that unforeseeable events prevented you from returning for more than a year. And proof that you have tried everything possible to maintain your residence/ties in the US i.e., filed tax returns, provided rent/utility in the US etc. Having significant family ties in the US can also help. A letter from a doctor stating that you or a family member had a medical issue could be considered such evidence.
It is worthwhile to apply to USCIS for a reentry permit if you have a green card and know in advance that you will need to be away from the country for longer than a year. You are permitted to do so for a maximum of two years. Before departing, submit your application, and wait until your biometrics appointment (fingerprinting) is called. Employ USCIS Form I-131. When you are prepared to return, use your reentry permit as your entry paperwork.
Reentry permits cannot be renewed and can be applied only inside the United States. If you want to stay away for more than two years, you must return briefly and apply for another reentry permit.
File for U.S. Citizenship to Avoid These Problems
By requesting naturalization as soon as you are qualified, you can reduce the probability that you will lose your residence in the US. There are a few exceptions to the general rule that you must wait five years after receiving a green card before becoming eligible. For instance, the wait practically decreases to four years if you were granted asylum (because your first year of being an asylee count), and to three years if you were married to a citizen of the United States at the time you acquired your green card and are still married and living together.
However, consulting an attorney will give you a better idea. Attorney Raju Mahajan & Associates has been assisting individuals in their immigration process. Our immigration law office provides numerous legal services, including online consultations, which you can have access to from any part of the world.