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Five common misconceptions about green cards

In order to obtain a green card (US permanent resident card), a foreigner usually goes through a rather complicated immigration process. Eligibility for a green card can be based on many factors, but most often it is obtained through sponsorship from a family member or employer. We have heard a lot about green cards, but still people often misunderstand how they work and what rights they give. The legal intelligenceencer.

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After obtaining legal status of a permanent resident of the United States (LPR), the green card holder must be careful not to take actions that could be interpreted by USCIS as giving up his LPR status.

Below are some common misconceptions that may have dire consequences for green card holders. The list is compiled by Liam P. Sweeney, a lawyer at Klasko Immigration Law Partners.

You can have a green card and come to the US once or twice a year.

The official name of the green card is the US Permanent Resident Card (LPR). The emphasis in this name is on the word "resident" - this means that the green card holder must be a permanent resident of the United States, and not just a regular visitor who enters the United States once or twice a year in an attempt to keep the green card.

Frequent departures outside the United States may affect permanent resident status. If you have been absent in the USA for a short period of time, as a rule, you will not have any problems. The absence of a duration of several months to one year may lead to an inquiry into whether you had the intention to refuse permanent residence in the United States.

In cases where, when attempting to re-enter, a permanent resident faces doubts about the immigration authorities about his intention to live in the United States, especially after being absent for more than six months, the green card holder must have evidence of his intention to remain a permanent resident of the states. Such evidence may be documents proving ownership of real estate, rental housing, bank accounts, securities, other assets and investments, driver’s licenses, a social security card, credit cards, proof of employment in the United States or a document confirming that this period is abroad you spent because of work.

A Customs and Border Patrol Officer (CBP) may unilaterally pick up your green card if he considers that you have renounced LPR status

This is not entirely true. A customs and border patrol officer (CBP) can indeed suspend a green card if he believes that you have confirmed the refusal of the LPR status with your actions. That is, this is not about termination, but about the suspension of the status of a permanent resident, followed by a secondary check of the immigrant and his right to reside in the United States.

This is an extremely unpleasant situation, however, although the owner of the green card does not have the same rights as a US citizen, he has the right to try his case. As soon as the green card holder received information about the need to pass a secondary check, he should immediately call an experienced immigration lawyer who will represent his interests in this matter. CBP officials cannot revoke LPR status; only an immigration judge can call him back. The green card holder does not have to sign any documents provided by CBP agents, since the signing indicates an intention to voluntarily renounce his green card, and in this case it will be impossible to challenge the deprivation of permanent resident status.

Green card is forever

All green cards have expiration dates, but they are not always the same. In cases where a foreigner receives a green card as a result of a recent marriage or investment under the EB-5 program, the first green card is issued for a conditional two-year period. This condition can be removed only by submitting certain applications to the immigration service, after which the action of the green card is extended to 10 years. The green card issued for 10 years can also be extended, but at this stage the immigrant has a huge advantage if he has the right to apply for naturalization. Compared to the cost of extending a green card, applying for naturalization costs only a little more, and the person will then avoid any problems with renewing the green card in the future, and also be able to get the rights that US citizens have.

To obtain US citizenship, an applicant must pass a regular USCIS review. The Immigration Service must conclude that a permanent resident behaves like a person of "high moral character" and did nothing that could lead to the loss of permanent resident status in the United States. Acts that may result in the loss of this status include most criminal convictions or long trips abroad. In particular, a permanent resident must physically be present in the United States for at least half of the days within five years immediately preceding the naturalization application. It should also not have a continuous absence from the United States for six months or more (without special permission from USCIS). In addition, the applicant must be ready to pass the citizenship test, which will demonstrate his knowledge of the basics of civil society, US history, and English.

Green Card Holder Cannot Be Deported

A permanent resident of the United States may be deported as a result of certain criminal charges against him. Such offenses include offenses related to moral obscenity or drugs; serious criminal offenses; espionage; violence in family; child abuse and more. If a permanent resident of the United States is arrested or charged with a crime, he must immediately notify his immigration lawyer and schedule a consultation with him to protect his interests. It is not recommended to go abroad in this case, or you should consult with a lawyer before that. A permanent resident of the United States may also lose a green card for immigration violations, including fraud or misrepresentation of information in immigration applications and forms.

Green card holders have the same rights as US citizens.

Green card holders enjoy certain rights in the United States, such as:

  • Living and working in the United States for the duration of the LPR status;
  • Home ownership in the USA;
  • Requesting special visas for spouses and unmarried children so that they can also live in the United States;
  • Receiving social security, Medicare benefits, and using other federal benefit programs to which he is entitled, starting from the program’s requirements;
  • Getting a driver's license;
  • School and college attendance;
  • A permanent resident of the United States is protected by all laws of the United States and the state in which he resides.

However, green card holders face certain rights restrictions. For example, they cannot vote or run for public office; do not have the right to work in the federal government; cannot travel abroad for a long period (without first obtaining permission to re-enter); cannot be jurors; and unlike US citizens, green card holders can be deported from the country.

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