Permanent Residency ("Green Card Holder")
What Is Permanent Residency?
Permanent Residency refers to a person's visa status as being allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely (barring some limitation) even though that person is not a U.S. Citizen. The "Green Card" serves as proof that its holder, a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), has been officially granted immigration benefits, including permission to live and work in the United States.
How Do I Obtain Permanent Residency?
Generally, there are only 4 main ways to obtain Permanent Residency:
- Through Family Members who are either U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents
- Through Employment when offered a permanent position in the U.S. or investing in an enterprise that creates new jobs in the U.S.
- Through Refugee Status when one who has fled their country is unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm
- Through Asylee Status when a refugee is already physically present in the U.S. or is seeking admission at a port of entry
There are also other ways of obtaining Permanent Residency. However, they are extremely specific in their requirements and, therefore, are less likely to apply.
Can My Permanent Residency be Revoked?
Yes. Although the U.S. Green Card can make the holder a Permanent Resident of the U.S. for life, the Green Card can be revoked. This usually happens due to:
- Immigration fraud: If someone marries a U.S. Citizen only to get a Green Card, the Green Card can be revoked.
- Criminal activity: In some cases, a Green Card holder may commit a serious enough crime that is grounds for deportation. In this case, the Green Card can be revoked.
- Fraud: If the Permanent Resident lied, omitted relevant information on their application, or committed any fraud to get a U.S. Green Card and this is discovered after the Green Card is issued, the Green Card may be revoked.
- Abandonment: If a U.S. Green Card holder remains outside of the U.S. too long – generally, 180 days or more annually – he or she is seen as abandoning their Green Card status and the status will be revoked. Once you are a Green Card holder, it is important to intend to maintain residency in the U.S. If you need to travel outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, you will need to secure travel documents that can show that you do not intend to abandon your status.
Do I Need to Renew My Green Card?
Yes. The government asks that all Green Card holders take part in Green Card renewal as needed. This helps the U.S. government fight fraud and allows the government to issue new Green Cards with new security features.
In most cases, U.S. Green Cards are valid for ten years. Conditional Green Cards are usually valid for two. If your Green Card will expire in six months or less, you will want to go through the Green Card renewal process to ensure that you get your new Green Card in time. If you need it, you will get temporary documentation to prove that you are a Permanent Resident.