The Catholic University of America

Maintaining Your Status as a Permanent Resident

Once the application for adjustment of status of status is approved, an individual is considered a resident alien of the U.S. However, it takes CIS a few months to issue the actual card. In the meantime, the new permanent resident may schedule an appointment with the CIS District office to obtain temporary proof of permanent residency. Additionally, the individual should notify CIS of any change in their home address within 10 days, particularly if the green card has not been received. This can be done on-line at www.uscis.gov and filling out a form AR-11 under the forms section. Any correspondence with CIS should reference their "A number" or green card number.

USCIS has produced a helpful Guide for New Immigrants which discusses these requirements. The section entitled "Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Lawful Permanent Resident" is particularly helpful.

Permanent Residents are not required to apply for U.S. citizenship. They will however, have to keep extending their permanent residency documents.

Individuals who become nonimmigrants should be aware of the benefits and limitations of their permanent resident status.

Benefits of Permanent Residency

Permanent residents:

  • can live and work anywhere in the U.S.
  • may freely leave and re-enter the U.S, without obtaining an entry visa (assuming travel with either with the actual Alien Registration Card of with the temporary "I-551 stamp" in passport that is issued as temporary evidence of permanent residency while the actual card is being produced.)
  • can apply for citizenship five years after obtaining permanent residence. A resident married to a citizen is often eligible in three years. Obtaining citizenship involves an application filed with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Although you do not have to become a U.S. citizen, we recommend that you consult with us as soon as you are eligible. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's website (www.uscis.gov) has excellent information about naturalization requirements and processes.
  • Can sponsor certain relatives for permanent residency. Individuals with questions about this should consult a competent immigration attorney.

Limitations

Permanent residency is not the same thing as being a U.S. citizen. Permanent residents must remember:

  • They must carry their "green card" with them and promptly apply for a replacement should it be lost, damaged or stolen.
  • They must pay taxes on all world-wide income.
  • Absences from the United States continuously for more than 180 days may cause CIS to question admissibility to the U.S. as a permanent resident, unless a re-entry permit has been received.
  • They cannot vote.
  • They cannot run for public office.
  • They cannot serve on jury duty.
  • They cannot have a Federal Civil Service job.
  • The commission of crimes can make them deportable or excludable.
  • Receiving public assistance within five years of getting permanent residency can be grounds for deportation.
  • Men between the ages of 18 and 26 must register with the U.S. Selective Service

Reentry Permits

Individuals can potentially lose their permanent residency if they are absent from the U.S. for six months or more. Short visits to the U.S. may not be enough to preserve permanent resident status. To prevent this from happening it is advisable to obtain a reentry permit which must be applied for before leaving the United States. The reentry permit can be issued for up to two years. Renewals are not possible.