Maintaining Your Permanent Residency

Once an applicant has been approved to get a green card he or she will receive a stamp on her/his passport which is evidence of the applicant’s permanent resident status, which is yet another step acheieved towards immigration to USA.  It can take a long time for the actual permanent resident status card to arrive. The stamp can be used as proof of status for employers and for travel to and from the United States.  Green card holders over the age of 18 are required to carry the green card at all times.  Sometimes the stamp actually expires before the green card arrives.  It is possible to go to a local USICS office for another stamp while waiting for the green card. 

Protecting Status from Loss

While permanent resident status sounds as if it actually lasts forever, it is possible to lose that status entirely. Green card holders who break the law or who live abroad too long may be subjected to removal hearings and if the judge determines removal is an appropriate punishment, the green card holder can be stripped of his permanent resident status, removed from the United States, and denied access to the United States in the future.

Travel Outside the U.S.

Green card holders who are going to travel outside the United States for an extended time (several months to over a year) should apply for a reentry permit just to be safe before they leave the United States.  The DV green card holder will have to provide detailed information about the travel plans and the purpose of the travel.  If a green card holder does not get a reentry permit, he will have to go to the U.S. consulate abroad and apply for a special immigrant visa in order to come back into the United States.

Re-Entry After Long Duration Leave

Once an immigrant is granted permanent resident status, that immigrant is expected to actually reside in the United States and extended time outside of the United States could raise suspicion regarding where the immigrant resides.  The Customs and Border Protection officers have the authority to refuse entry to a person who appears to be living in another country.  Documentation to help prove residency in the United States might include U.S. tax returns, home ownership, employment in the United States, a one-way ticket to the United States, or your family’s residence in the United States.

Social Security Number

Anyone who works in the United States has to pay income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.  Each employer must also pay taxes for his employees.  In order for the Internal Revenue Service to keep track of taxes paid and hours worked, both the employer and the employee need to use an identification number which is unique to the employee.  That number is a social security number.  Foreign nationals who apply for work authorization are given a social security number upon approval of the work authorization.  Immigrants who have not worked before being approved for permanent resident status should apply for a social security number at their local social security administration office.

Conditional Permanent Resident

Spouses who receive green cards through marriage have special rules discussed in the marriage section of this guide.  Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children under age 18, still living in the custody of the U.S. citizen are automatically granted citizenship status when the immigrant parent receives citizenship after living with the U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years.   Children who are over 18 years of age when they receive their green card status have to wait five years before applying for citizenship, unlike the three years required for the spouse.


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