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Maintaining Permanent Resident Status

Once you become a permanent resident, you consider the United States your home; you must also respect and obey all of the country’s laws. The U.S. government says that being a permanent resident is a privilege, not a right, therefore, you must maintain your permanent resident status in order to live and work in the U.S. lawfully.

Permanent residents receive what is called a valid Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551); this is proof of their legal status in the United States. You may know this card as a “green card.” As a permanent resident who is 18 or older, you must carry your green card with you at all times.

If an immigration or law enforcement asks to see your green card, you must show it to them. Permanent Resident Cards, or “green cards” are valid for 10 years, and you must renew yours before it expires or before your name changes – the same as you do with a driver’s license.

To renew or replace your green card, you must file a Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

Some facts about your green card:

  • You must carry it with you at all times.
  • It’s good for 10 years.
  • You must renew it before it expires.
  • You must replace it if your name changes.
  • It allows you to live and work in the United States.
  • You use your green card to enter the United States.
  • You use your green card to travel abroad.

Other things to keep in mind about being a permanent resident: 1) you must file applicable local, state and federal tax returns, 2) if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26, you must register with the Selective Service, and 3) you are not supposed to leave the U.S. for an extended period of time, unless you can show that the trip was for a temporary (important) purpose.

Note: If you are a “conditional permanent resident” through marriage or because you’re an entrepreneur, and you were issued a two-year green card, you will NOT use Form I-90, instead you will need to apply for an extension or renewal of your status.

Leaving the U.S. for More Than 12 Months

If you leave the United States for more than 12 months, you’ll have to show additional documentation in order to re-enter the U.S. as a permanent resident. For more information on these documents, contact a Plano immigration attorney from The Zendeh Del Law Firm!