A green card, otherwise known as a Permanent Resident Card, grants you permission to live and and work permanently in the United States — given you oblige by the guidelines laid out by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Receiving your green card can be a source of pride, especially given the amount of time, effort and money that acquiring one takes. Therefore, once you have it, it is critical to avoid making mistakes that may cause you to lose your privilege to work and live here.
Reasons you could lose your permanent resident status in the U.S.
While the green card gives you permanent residence, the card itself is not permanent. There are many instances that may, in fact, cause you to surrender your permanent residence and put you at risk for deportation proceedings. Some of these situations are:
- Criminal convictions: A judge could order you to be removed from the country for serious crimes of moral turpitude that result in a sentence of at least a year, or even for a combination of lesser ones. That is why defending any criminal charge is even more crucial for someone who is not yet a U.S. citizen. It is important to note that not all crimes are deportable. Experienced legal guidance can help you assess your unique situation.
- Fraudulent or willful misrepresentation to enter the country: If U.S. immigration authorities determine your marriage was one of convenience or that you lied during your green card application process, they may take it away.
- Elongated stays outside of the U.S. or living in another country: To retain your right to be a permanent resident, you must first exercise those privileges and reside in the U.S. If the authorities determine you have spent too long outside the country for an inappropriate reason, they may withdraw your card.
- Declaring yourself as a non-immigrant on your taxes: If you file your U.S. tax return as a non-immigrant, that can be taken as a sign that you are not a genuine resident of the country and put you at risk of having your permanent resident status revoked.
- Voluntarily choosing to surrender your green card: If your current situation does not require you to maintain the right to legally live and work in the country, filing Form I-407 can help you along the path to surrounding your green card. Choosing to do so is an important decision and is best made in conjunction with a U.S. immigration law attorney.
- Becoming a U.S. citizen: The best way to lose your green card status would be to naturalize as a U.S. citizen, which ultimately protects you from deportation.
If you feel your green card is under threat, do not delay seeking legal help to understand how to defend it and protect your rights to stay in the country. Time is of the essence in immigration issues, and you have enough pressure without fighting the clock.