If you recently got your green card and are now a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you might be looking forward to dropping those immigration attorney costs out of your monthly budget. But don't be too hasty to do that. Your circumstances may change, and you may decide to actually give up your card. But if you want to keep the card, you have to be careful not to have it revoked, which can happen much more quickly and easily than you think.
Reasons to Lose
It shouldn't be a surprise that you can lose a green card if you commit a crime, but you can lose your green card for seemingly silly reasons, too. Nolo.com notes that if you don't change your address with Immigration Services within 10 days of you moving, for example, you can lose your green card. You can also lose it if you appear to be living outside the country as an actual resident in another country. Nolo.com also warns that it's important to note that the much bandied-about figure of "entering the country once a year" is not enough to prevent card loss.
You're allowed to travel outside the United States once you have a green card, but you have to show that you are not abandoning your status as a permanent resident. Someone who goes to visit their home country for a few days and then returns to the United States is clearly just traveling—but if someone stays in the country and works there for several months, the border agent at the reentry port in the United States (in other words, the people working Border Control and checking your passport) might decide that you were no longer residing in the United States.
If you have to live outside the United States for an extended period of time, say to take care of a sick relative, talk to an immigration attorney first. You must set up the trip so that it is obvious that it is temporary and that you were not moving back to the other country. If anything happens that extends your trip substantially, contact an immigration attorney or have your family who are still in the United States do it. If you don't, you could find yourself turned back at the U.S. border, requiring you to apply for a special entry permit despite your green card status.
If your employer sends you out on an international assignment, be doubly sure to talk to an immigration lawyer first. That would almost certainly look like you're giving up U.S. residency because you'd be living and working outside the country. You must be sure you know what to do to make it apparent that it was a work assignment and not an attempt to move away.
Some of the crimes that can cost you your card are misdemeanors that wouldn't require jail time. Other times, it's the plea bargain that can get you in trouble. After all, if you plead guilty in exchange for a more lenient sentence, such as probation, you're essentially admitting guilt on paper. Always talk to an immigration attorney, or ensure that your criminal attorney is well-versed in immigration matters.
Giving up the Card
But what if you want to actually give up the green card? Maybe during that trip home you realized that you prefer to be there. You can give up the green card by filling out a form and arranging an interview at a U.S. consulate. But be aware that you might have to wait for a while. Due to the number of people giving up U.S. citizenship (2,999 in 2013, according to Forbes.com), getting an interview can take some time. Until you can get that interview, remember to keep filing your U.S. taxes.
Again, contact an immigration attorney to ensure you've done the correct paperwork and to ensure you know what taxes or exit fees might be due. In this case, you'd also need an accountant, and your immigration attorney may know of one who is experienced in immigration tax matters.
Getting a green card is a happy accomplishment, and you want to be sure that you handle traveling and life matters appropriately. Stay in touch with your immigration attorney to ensure you keep the card for as long as you want. If you have further questions or do not currently have an immigration attorney, contact one at a firm like Tesoroni & Leroy.
One of the greatest things about being a member of my church is getting to meet people from all over the world. We bring missionaries in to speak for special events, and some of them bring guests from other countries with them. Last year, one man brought a woman and her child with him to an event, and they were the nicest people I have ever met. She told of her struggles at home and how she faced such extreme situations each day. Our church was able to help her get an immigration attorney and helped her stay in the country.