Are you a lawful permanent resident? If so, you are currently experiencing several benefits that come with a U.S. green card. Namely, you can live and work permanently in the United States.
This permanence, however, is not as binding as U.S. citizenship. While a citizen enjoys permanent protection against deportation, your green card affords you protection so long as you adhere to the terms of your status and both state and federal laws.
If you are not yet eligible for (or interested in) U.S. citizenship, here are 3 key ways to keep your green card active.
1. Keep Trips Abroad Short
If you leave the United States for many years and take up residence in another country, the U.S. government will conclude that you abandoned your permanent residence in the United States, and your green card will no longer be valid.
Generally, your green card becomes invalid after one year of travel abroad. However, you may lose your permanent residence for shorter trips if other factors suggest that you have abandoned your residence. These other factors include your place of work, whether or not you are paying U.S. taxes, the location of your commercial investments, your family and community relationships, and more. This is why legal professionals recommend keeping trips abroad shorter than six months.
If you need to leave the United States for longer than six months, you will benefit from a reentry permit, which you will need to apply for before leaving. A reentry permit allows you to leave the U.S. for up to two years without the risk of losing your green card.
2. Keep Trips Even Shorter if the U.S. Considers You a Public Charge
A public charge is someone who appears to rely on government assistance. Recently, a new public charge rule gave greater authority to adjudicating officers, allowing them to use the public charge grounds of inadmissibility to deny even more green card applications than they had in the past.
If you already have your green card, you normally will not need to worry about losing it if you start receiving certain public benefits. It also will not affect your eligibility for U.S. citizenship. However, your use of public benefits may cause Customs and Border Patrol to not let you back into the United States if you are returning from a trip abroad that was six months or longer.
Visit here for more details about who may be considered a public charge.
3. Maintain Good Moral Character
Good moral character refers to ongoing behaviors that allow you to qualify for (and maintain) certain immigration benefits.
Generally, the U.S. government sees good moral character as a LACK of problematic behaviors or incidents, such as the following:
- Criminal activity
- Habitual drunkenness
- Drug abuse
- Failure to pay child support
- Not registering for the U.S. Selected Service System (if you 18-25 and male)
For the purposes of keeping your green card, you will mainly need to focus on following all local, state, and federal laws. Certain types of crimes can render you inadmissible, which means you will be deported if you cannot successfully cancel the removal proceeding.
Maintaining good moral character will not only help you keep your green card—it will also help you qualify for U.S. citizenship.
Bring Your Concerns to Our Trusted Law Firm
Do you have more questions about how to maintain your lawful permanent residence? Are you currently having issues reentering the United States, or are you facing a removal proceeding within the U.S.? US Legal Group, APC has extensive experience helping clients obtain green cards, protect their green cards, and transition to U.S. citizenship. We are more than happy to answer all your questions and address your concerns. If necessary, we can fight for your rights in immigration court.