Our clients and all immigrants around the country migrate to the U.S. for different reasons and through different processes. It can be through a family-based petition, spousal petition, asylum, employment visa, among others. Regardless of the process, if approved, they all have the same outcome: the nonresident alien becomes a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States. Today, I bring you a guide on what to do and not to do as a new Lawful Permanent Resident.

What is a Lawful Permanent Resident?

First and foremost, let’s start with the basics of what constitutes an LPR status. The term LPR refers to a person who is an immigrant and holds a Permanent Resident Card (I-551 or “Green Card”). In other terms, an LPR is an individual who is lawfully authorized to live and work in the U.S. permanently and shares some but not all of the benefits as a citizen.

What are the benefits of a Green Card?

  • It opens a pathway to U.S. citizenship after 3-5 years
  • It cannot be revoked with potential changes to immigration laws
  • It can be renewed every 10 years
  • You can live permanently in the U.S. so long as you do not commit any actions that make you removable under immigration law
  • You can sponsor immediate family members
  • You have the same legal protections under the law as U.S. citizens
  • You can receive federal benefits

What are the responsibilities of a Lawful Permanent Resident?

  • You must maintain your primary residence in the U.S.
  • You are required to report your income and file tax returns to the IRS
  • You must obey all laws of the U.S. at the local, state, and federal levels
  • Male LPRs that are between 18-25 years of age, are required to register with the Selective Service

What are some rights and benefits that U.S. citizens have but do not apply to LPRs?

  • LPRs don’t have the right to vote in any local, state, or federal election
  • LPRs can’t automatically extend their legal status to their children under 21 years old
  • LPRs are not fully protected from deportation
  • LPRs can’t run for office
  • LPRs are not allowed to live outside the U.S. for an extended period of time

How do I protect my Green Card?

As previously mentioned, your permanent residency status cannot be revoked with future changes to immigration law. However, certain crimes and prohibited acts could potentially cause you to lose your green card. Some of these are:

  • Falsely claiming to be a U.S. Citizen under any circumstances and in any way. A false claim to U.S. citizenship, in writing or verbally, is a serious violation of the law and can have extreme consequences such as deportation. Such an act is rarely ever deemed forgivable under immigration law.
  • Being arrested and convicted of certain crimes can cause you to lose your green card and face deportation. Some examples of these crimes are domestic violence crimes, firearms offenses, drug offenses (including marijuana), and any crime that constitutes moral deprivation.
  • Holders of a Conditional Permanent Residency, which is valid for 2 years, are required to apply for removal of these conditions after 2 years. Failing to file for a Removal of Conditions on a green card (I-751) can result in the termination of conditional residency and face possible deportation.
  • As we mentioned before, LPRs should not remain outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time. By doing so, you pose the risk of being considered an abandonment of your permanent resident status. Trips of one year or more will likely result in a determination that you have abandoned your permanent resident status unless you have obtained pre-approval for the extended absence through a document known as a re-entry permit.

As always, consult with an attorney to get answers to specific questions you may have on what to do after obtaining your Lawful Permanent Resident status in the U.S.

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