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IMMIGRATION – Post Green Card: What Happens After You Obtain Lawful Permanent Residency (PART 2)

Hello everyone! This week is part 2 of What Happens After you receive your Permanent Residency Card, or commonly referred to as the "Green Card". If you recall, in part 1, I discussed what you should do with your newly obtained green card, and answered the question: do you have to keep it with you at all times or can you leave it at home? In this week's part 2, I will discuss the following issues: Renewal of the green card, timing of filing your application, and benefits of having a green card. Without further ado, let's get right into it.

What Is A "Green Card"? (Review)

As a recap, the green card is rectangular, similar in size to that of a driver's license, credit card, or membership I.D. In the past, the card was entirely green with white or black lettering, hence the name "Green Card". Presently the card is not just green, but is multi-colored. However, more important than the physical characteristics of the card, is the value as evidence it provides the owner; that is, it is proof of lawful immigration status here in the United States. The owner of the Green Card is authorized to not only live in the United States, but also, to be gainfully employed without general restrictions.

Now that I received my Green Card, do I have to renew it?

As long as you remain a lawful permanent resident (as opposed to being a U.S. Citizen), you will have to eventually renew your Green Card either in about 2 years, or each 10 years, depending on what type of Green Card you received. (My advice: For those that are eligible, I would suggest you consider petitioning for U.S. Citizenship. Recent news has come out that the current administration in the White House is seeking to make it harder for people to become U.S. Citizens! Please see my FB page for more information on this). To determine the duration of your lawful residency status, look at the front of your Green Card. Near the bottom, it will indicate when you obtained lawful status (i.e., "Residence Since"), and when your status expires (i.e., "Card Expires").

The 2-Year “Conditional” Green Card Based on Marriage: 2 Year Expiration

If you have obtained a Green Card that was issued with a 2 year expiration, you have what is called a “conditional” Green Card. This type of Green Card is issued if you were married less than two years when your lawful permanent residency status was granted. Prior to the 2 year anniversary of this Green Card, you are required to petition for removal of this condition. In general, to convert the conditional Green Card into a 10 year green card, the U.S. citizen/sponsoring spouse and the conditional Green Card-holding spouse must petition to have the condition removed within 3 months before the card expires. Failure to do this will result in the expiration of the Green Card and automatic termination of your lawful permanent residency status!

The 10-Year Green Card: Long Term Residency with 10 Year Expiration

For those of you who are in possession of a 10 year Green Card, take comfort in the fact that not only does your card indicate a longer term of lawful residency, but when it comes time to renew, it is not as difficult nor is the process as time- consuming as for those holding "conditional" Green Cards. In addition, whereas "conditional" Green Card holders are required to petition for removal of their conditions within 3 months of expiration, 10 year Green Card holders can apply within 6 months of expiration!

Green Card Benefits

After you recieve your green card, whether it is "conditional" or not, you gain some rights and privileges, such as:

1) Proving Legal Residency Status - the card is proof that you are not an unlawful immigrant, and that you have the right to maintain residency here in the United States,

2) Employment Verification - the card allows you to work in the United States without use of a separate employment/work permit,

3) Social Security Card - with your Green Card, you can apply for a social security number and card,

4) Driver's License - with your card, you can apply for a state issued driver's license, and

5) Travel Document - you can use your card to travel, and more importantly, to return to the United States. However, as a general warning: do not remain out of the U.S. for more than 6 months, and definitely not more than 1 year, without first obtaining a valid travel permit from USCIS!

Well, there you go: a short and concise review of post green card issues. In the future, I will be writing more about this. Until then, be sure to read my other articles. Immigration law can be confusing. We are here to help you.

If you have any questions still left unanswered or you have questions regarding other legal issues such as Business, Family, or Property, email me at: JC4LAW@HOTMAIL.COM, call my office at (818) 846-5639, or my Thai direct line at (818) 505-4921. Also be sure to check us out on the web at: WWW.JC4LAW.COM, and now on FACEBOOK at: Be sure to follow (and "like") me for most recent updates in the law!

Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice unless otherwise specified. If you have a specific question regarding your personal case, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph Chitmongran for a full consultation.