Maintaining Permanent Residence

Now that you have the privilege to be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), you also have new rights, such as live permanently and work in the U.S., attend public school, apply to become a U.S. citizen once you are eligible, leave and return to the U.S. under some conditions, etc. On the other hand, you have some responsibilities, such as obey all laws, federal, state and local; pay federal, state, and local income taxes; register with the Selective Service System (SSS) if you are a male, between the ages of 18 and 26; carry proof of your immigration status; and report address changes to USCIS.

Start and End Dates of Permanent Residence Status

Your time as LPR begins on the date you were granted permanent resident status, and this date is on your green card. You will maintain your permanent resident status until you apply for and complete the naturalization process; or lose or abandon your status.

There are many ways that you can lose your status of LPR.

One way is by violating the law, not limited to criminal offenses. If you get arrested or charged with violating the law, we recommend you to contact an immigration lawyer.

Another way to lose your permanent resident status is by intentionally abandoning it. According to USCIS, you may be found to have abandoned your status if you:

  1. Move to another country, intending to make the other country your permanent home;
  2. Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the U.S. for any period;
  3. Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your U.S. tax returns;
  4. Remain outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, unless you intended this to be a temporary absence.

Green Card Renewal or Removal of Conditions

You must renew your green card before it expires or if your name changes. The date of expiration is on your green card. If you are a conditional permanent resident, and your green card was issued with a 2 years’ expiration date, you must file for removal of your conditions before your card expires.

Traveling abroad

You may travel outside the U.S. and return, and your green card is valid for readmission to the U.S. However, there are some limitations as explained in this section.

Remaining outside of the U.S. for more than 12 months may result in a loss of your lawful permanent resident status. If you plan to go on a trip abroad that will last longer than 1 year, a re-entry permit must be filed with USCIS before leaving the U.S. to establish that you do not intend to abandon your permanent resident status.

You should be aware that even absences from the U.S. of less than one year, but of more than 180 days, may subject you to a full immigration inspection as an applicant for admission at the U.S. ports of entry when returning from a trip abroad.  And, even if your trips are not so long, but, under the circumstances, may indicate that you did not intend to make the U.S. your permanent home, you may be found to have abandoned your LPR status. So it is highly recommended that you apply for a reentry permit before leaving.

Even if your stay outside the U.S. was less than 180 days at a time, and you return to the U.S. intermittently, you may still be found to have the intent to abandon your permanent residence upon your return. Therefore, it is a gray area and it is recommended that you maintain all evidence of your continued ties to the U.S., such as compliance with U.S. tax law, ownership of property and assets in the U.S., maintenance of U.S. licenses and memberships.

If you did not plan a long trip, and your stay outside the U.S. was beyond your control, and you always had the intent to return to the U.S., you must produce evidence of your continuing, unbroken ties to the U.S. as mentioned above. If you are outside of the U.S. for more than one year, and do not have a re-entry documentation, you may contact the U.S. Consulate abroad for a returning resident visa.

Residency requirement

As a permanent resident, you must intend to reside in the U.S. and be physically present in the U.S. Even if you do not want to apply for naturalization in the future, you are still required to comply with the LPR requirements. Temporary absences from the U.S. are allowed, but under certain conditions as stated above.

If you have any questions, please contact our law firm for a consultation.

Zhang-Louie, Immigration Legal Counsel is a law firm in Malden, Massachusetts with multi-lingual language capabilities – Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.