Permanent Residency (Green Cards)
A person who attains permanent residency acquires a green card, Form I-551, which grants the right to live and work permanently in the United States. The first step toward acquiring permanent residency is to obtain an immigration visa. Through the following types of immigration, a foreign national may become eligible for permanent residency status:
- Employment-based immigration
- Family-based immigration
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
After meeting certain eligibility requirements, an immigrant living in the United States may apply to adjust to permanent status.
Immigrants may also apply for permanent status through consular processing, by applying at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
Even though a permanent resident must renew his or her green card every ten years, the card does not expire.
Permanent residents enjoy many of the same rights as U.S. citizens, including freedom of employment and self-employment.
Very few career opportunities require U.S. citizenship. However, as non-citizens, immigrants cannot vote or serve on a jury. After residing in the United States for five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen), the permanent resident may apply for U.S. citizenship.
Loss of permanent residency status
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can lose your permanent residency status, if you do any of the following:
- Move to another country intending to live there permanently
- Remain outside of the U.S. for more than one year without obtaining a re-entry permit or returning resident visa; however, in determining whether your status has been abandoned, any length of absence from the U.S. may be considered, even if it is less than one year
- Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the U.S. for any period
- Declare yourself a ‘nonimmigrant’ on your tax returns
At the Frager Law Firm our immigration attorneys assist clients with permanent residency issues, provide legal advice for maintaining status, and help clients protect their rights. If you are a permanent resident and have been offered a position abroad, legal counsel can help you evaluate the effect on permanent residency status before accepting the job offer.
Arrange a consultation today with the Frager Law Firm.