You just became a lawful permanent resident. You might have waited months or even years for this status, but the benefits are well worth it. You can travel more freely in and out of the U.S., sponsor certain relatives for green cards, apply for benefits, and much more.
Unfortunately, losing your green card may be easier than you think—especially today, with ever-tightening restrictions and rules for immigrants. All permanent residents must take certain steps to ensure their status is exactly that—permanent.
Generally, we recommend the following ways to protect your status:
- Renew your green card before it expires (every ten years OR after two years if you were given a conditional green card)
- Obtain a reentry permit if you plan on leaving the U.S. for an extended period
- Secure employment in the U.S.
- File taxes in the U.S.
- Keep your dependents in the U.S.
- Keep a U.S. bank account and credit card
- Maintain a U.S. driver’s license
- Live primarily in the U.S.
- Own property in the U.S.
- Abide by the law (and immigration status restrictions)
Although the above methods will certainly help you protect your status, USCIS can use its discretion when determining whether you have “abandoned your residence,” meaning you have forfeited your legal status because your actual home is elsewhere. Your intention is key here, and USCIS may cite a variety of factors that point to your alleged intention to abandon your U.S. residence.
The following circumstances may place your status under scrutiny:
- You leave the country for longer than six months
- You leave the country frequently, returning to the U.S. for short amounts of time
- You have few to no financial obligations in the U.S.
- Your dependents and other family members live in another country
- You are not regularly employed in the U.S.
Can Permanent Residents Be Deported?
Unfortunately, the only way an immigrant can obtain unconditional protection against deportation is to become a U.S. citizen. If you are convicted of a crime (or even just arrested), you may be at risk of a removal proceeding.
Not all crimes will lead to deportation. Generally, the crimes must involve “moral turpitude” or qualify as an aggravated felony.
Fortunately, you will most likely be given the chance to defend yourself in immigration court. If you find yourself in this situation, retaining qualified counsel is imperative.
Our Team Can Protect Your Rights
You worked hard to acquire permanent residence, and Gambacorta Law can help you keep it. We can assess your situation and determine how best to protect your legal status, and, if necessary, we can fight for your rights in court. For many permanent residents, U.S. citizenship is the final step of the immigration journey—if this is the case for you, we can guide you through every step of the process.