ImmigrationTALK: Do’s and Don’ts for Permanent Residents
By: Attorney Gail S. Seeram, Gail@GailLaw.com, www.GailLaw.com
Many lawful permanent residents (or green card holders) are not aware of their legal rights and responsibilities upon entry into the United States. Also, they are ignorant of the fact that their legal status in the United States can be terminated for several reasons. Below we identify the Do’s (legal rights and responsibilities) and Don’ts (actions that can lead to losing legal status) for permanent residents:
• File federal, state, and, if applicable, local income tax returns.
• Register with the Selective Service, if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26. Register at http://www.sss.gov or speak with someone from the Selective Service at 847-688-6888.
• Give your new address to Department of Homeland Security by filing Form AR-11.
• File to remove conditions on a two-year green card at least 90 days before the card expires.
• Obey all federal, state, and local laws.
• Maintain your immigration status by not traveling outside the U.S. for extended periods.
• Carry your permanent resident card (or green card) at all times. If not, jail or fines apply.
• Apply to become a U.S. citizen when you are eligible.
• Request visas for your husband or wife and unmarried children to live in the U.S.
• Get Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare benefits, if you are eligible.
• If your card is valid for 10 years, it must be renewed before it expires.
• Keep copies of all forms you send to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and other government offices. When sending documents, do not send originals. Send copies.
• Consult with an immigration attorney regarding ALL immigration matters. Immigration providers such as notaries, travel agencies, accountants and consultants are not qualified to offer legal services or represent you in front of an immigration officer or in court.
• Don’t leave the United States for an extended period of time or move to another country to live.
• Don’t engage in the following behaviors that can have serious consequence on your status:
1. Lie to get immigration benefits for yourself or someone else.
2. Say you are a U.S. citizen if you are not.
3. Vote or register to vote in a federal election or in a local election open only to U.S. citizens.
4. Become a “habitual drunkard”—someone who is drunk or someone who uses illegal drugs most of the time.
5. Marry more than one person at the same time.
6. Fail to support your family or to pay child or spousal support as ordered.
7. Are arrested for assaulting or harassing a family member, including violating a protection order. This is called domestic violence.
8. Lie to get public benefits.
9. Help someone else who is not a U.S. citizen or national to enter the United States illegally even if that person is a close relative and even if you are not paid.
• Don’t engage in the following crimes that can lead to removal/deportation proceedings:
1. A crime defined as an “aggravated felony,” which includes crimes of violence that are felonies with a one-year prison term.
3. Terrorist activities.
5. Sexual assault on a child.
6. Illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people.
7. A crime of “moral turpitude,” which in general is a crime with an intent to steal or defraud; a crime where physical harm is done or threatened; a crime where serious physical harm is caused by reckless behavior; or a crime of sexual misconduct.