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How to Lose a Green Card Forever

green card
Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Many immigrants dream about the day they become permanent residents and wish for the sense of stability the “green card” gives. This card can open many doors, bring better job opportunities, and allow people to feel confident to embark in financial decisions like buying a house, starting a business, or investing.

However, Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) must be aware that this document can be taken away, along with the right to live in this country.

There are a variety of reasons Legal Permanent Residents can lose the benefits of living permanently in the United States and face deportation. Failure to know the rules can get a person in trouble. These are some of the reasons a person can lose a green card forever:

  1. Committing a Crime

This is unfortunately a very common way to lose permanent resident status and become deportable.  It’s important to know that a person need not commit a felony to become deportable; even being caught in possession of a controlled substance can be a problem. The list of crimes that would make a person deportable is complicated to craft since each state has a different classification for felonies and misdemeanors.

It’s important to note that Congress expanded the definition of deportable crimes called “aggravated felonies” over the years, especially since 1996, when lawmakers passed two laws: the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The laws made more than 20 new crimes into aggravated felonies, including counterfeit, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

If you are accused of any crime, please consult an immigration attorney with vast experience in criminal law.

  1. Committing Fraud

Committing fraud in the green card application process and being discovered later is another way to lose any immigration benefit. Other forms of fraud include getting involved in a sham marriage.

  1. Posing as a U.S. Citizen

U.S. citizens are granted more rights than lawful permanent residents. When a Legal Permanent Resident misrepresents his or her status as a U.S. citizen in an effort to vote or obtain any benefit, he or she can lose a green card.

  1. Failing to Complete a Timely Change of Address Form

Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) must report any change of address to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days. The form to file to be in compliance is called AR-11.

  1. Abandoning Permanent Residence Status

Green card holders are required to establish residence in the U.S. and pay taxes, and are expected to be able to prove their ties with the country when applying for U.S. citizenship. This means they need to prove they have been working, using banks, investing, etc. in the U.S. LPRs are expected to not leave the country for more than six months.

If you have any questions regarding this issues, consult a good immigration lawyer. Please read our guides on to how to find a good immigration lawyer.