Written by attorney Carl Michael Shusterman

Things to Remember After Receiving a Green Card

Congrats! You are now a green card holder. Your I-485 approval Notice is evidence that you have been granted Legal permanent Resident status. Moving forward, it is advisable to keep following things in mind. If you do not receive your Green Card in the mail within 30 days, please call your attorney to do a follow up with the Immigration office.

If you are granted an immigrant visa at the consulate/embassy, be sure to enter the U.S. before the visa expires. Upon your admission to the U.S., the immigration officer will stamp your passport and make applicable notations which will serve as evidence that you have attained your permanent resident status.

Any previously obtained nonimmigrant visa, Advance Parole or Employment Authorization Document (EAD), should no longer be applied for/renewed/extended.

You should keep a photocopy of your green card in a safe place, and you should carry the card with you. Should it ever be lost, damaged, or destroyed, you must apply for a replacement card.

As a permanent resident, you are free to depart and reenter the United States without obtaining a visa at a United States Consulate. If you travel overseas or across U. S. borders while waiting for the arrival of your "green card", you must obtain an I-551 verification stamp in your passport from a district office of the Immigration Service. You may re-enter the U. S. during the validity period of the "green card" or the I-551 verification stamp" , together with a valid passport.

If you plan to remain outside of the U. S. for six months or longer, you are strongly suggested to obtain a 'Re-entry Permit" before leaving the U.S.

There are certain other matters which may be useful or pertinent to your permanent resident status.

Although there are some restrictions or some limitations on what permanent residents can do, in most respects, these are rather limited. A permanent resident generally cannot vote, run for public office, serve on a jury, or have a Federal Civil Service Job. Commission of certain criminal acts and other designated acts may result in the loss of a person's green card and render permanent residents deportable from the United States or excludable upon their return to the United States. If there are any serious changes in your physical, mental or financial well being, or you are involved in any sort of criminal conduct, we urge you to contact your attorney immediately to determine its effect on your permanent residence.

A permanent resident is eligible for citizenship five years after obtaining permanent residence, except in cases of marriage to a U.S. citizen, where it is three years beginning from the permanent residence or the date of marriage, whichever is later, and assuming that you and your citizen spouse live together for that three year period. Obtaining citizenship involves an application and a petition to be filed with the USCIS. You do not have to become a citizen, but rather can continue being a permanent resident.

You should be aware that absences of more than one year may result in loss of a permanent residence unless a reentry permit has been issued to you by USCIS prior to your departure for such a period. A reentry permit can be obtained, and must be applied for, prior to leaving the United States. Coming to the United States for a short period of time each year is insufficient to maintain permanent residence, unless you can show strong ties to the United States. Also, you should be aware that the residence, physical residence, and physical presence requirements to maintain permanent resident status, including staying out of the United States on a reentry permit, do not necessarily maintain your residence for naturalization purposes. I.e. more time you spend outside the Unites, More time it will take for you to become a U.S. Citizen.

Whenever you move or change residence, you need to notify USCIS by submitting an AR-11.

Presently, there is a compulsory military registration (referred to as "selective service") in the U.S. for males who have reached their 18th birthday and who have not passed their 26th birthday. These individuals must register within 30 days of becoming 18 years old or of obtaining permanent residence, whichever is later.

Also, you are barred from receiving public assistance with some exceptions within five years of entry as a permanent resident.

As a permanent resident the only relatives you are able to sponsor for immigration are your spouse and unmarried sons or daughters. Under the laws that stand today, when and if you become a citizen you could petition for parents, brothers and sisters, and children regardless of age and marital status, subject to quota restrictions. Before sponsoring any relatives, particularly because of the possibilities of change in quota availability or the law itself, we strongly encourage readers to check with an immigration attorney.

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