A Guide To U.S Permanent Resident Status


Welcome, and congratulations on becoming a U.S. permanent resident! The U.S. is full of many  opportunities for new immigrants, but it is of great importance that you do not lose your status by abandonment. The following is a guide to help you know what your rights and responsibilities are, and to help you maintain your status as a U.S. lawful permanent resident.


A permanent resident is issued a permanent resident card, also known as the green card.  The card must be in your possession at all times. As a permanent resident, you have most of the rights of a US Citizen with some exceptions.


  • To live permanently in the US

  • To be employed

  • To be protected by US laws

  • To vote in local elections where US citizenship is not required


  • You may not take certain jobs limited to US citizens only

  • You may not vote in elections restricted to US citizens


  • To obey all US laws

  • To file tax returns and report income

  • To register with the Selective Service if you are male between 18 and 26 years old


A permanent resident can travel freely outside of the US.  A passport from the country of citizenship is required.

To reenter the US, you need to present your green card for readmission.  

A Reentry Permit is needed for reentry for trips outside the US greater than one year but less than two years.


You may lose your status in two ways:  (1) deportation; and (2) abandonment.


If you commit certain crimes or offenses listed under INA Section 237, you may be subject to removal (deportation) from the US.


You may be found to have abandoned your status if you:

  • Move to another country intending to live there on a permanent basis.

  • Remain outside the US for more than one year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa. However, in determining whether you have abandoned your status any length of absence may be considered, even if it is less than one year.

  • Remain outside the US for more than two years after issuance of reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa.

  • Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the US for any period.

  • Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your tax returns.


The difference between conditional resident and unconditional resident is that conditional resident status will expire in two years from the date on which the status was granted, unless a petition to remove the condition is timely filed.  Ordinarily, conditional status is granted in two situations: (1) your marriage was less than two years at the time of grant of the status; or (2) your status was based on investment as an employment creation immigrant.


Many permanent residents wish to become US citizens.  Naturalization is the primary method for most people not born in the US to obtain citizenship. You must meet the residence and physical presence requirements when applying for naturalization.  Once you become a US citizen, you will have the same rights and privileges as a native-born citizen with only one exception. Only a native-born citizen can be elected president of the US.


You are required to notify the BCIS of any change of addresses within 10 days of the change.  Form AR-11 is used for reporting change of addresses.


If you need more information or legal assistance after viewing this post, feel free to contact me through this website or by calling 541-484-1811 or through email at bwang@bwanglaw.com.