Permanent Residency

Permanent Residency Status

In the United States, permanent residency refers to a person’s immigration status. A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) is not a U.S. citizen but is authorized to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. A Lawful Permanent Resident is also known as a Permanent Resident Alien, Resident Alien Permit Holder, and Green Card Holder.

Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

The process of getting a “Green Card” while within the United States is called Adjustment of Status. By comparison, the process of getting a green card from outside the United States is called Consular Processing. Those applications are being processed in the U.S. Embassy or consulate in a foreign country.

It is important to understand that permanent residency is a privilege under the law. It can be revoked, even after receiving a green card.

How to become a Lawful Permanent Resident?

There are several pathways to become a Lawful Permanent Resident. Many individuals obtain LPR status through family sponsorship, others seek it through refugee or asylum status, or through the Diversity Visa (Green Card) lottery.

There are also several employment-based immigrant visas in the employment sector who qualify for Adjustment of Status at some point.

San Antonio Immigration Attorney Brigitte Garza is experienced in Adjustment of Status applications.  Contact her today to check whether you are eligible for Adjustment of Status and get more information.

Rights and Responsibilities of Permanent Residents

Permanent residency status carries with it a number of important rights and responsibilities; some of these include the following:

  • The right to live permanently in the United States, as long as the permanent resident does not commit any violations that would warrant removal under U.S. law
  • The right to work in the United States
  • The right to be protected by the laws of the United States, the permanent resident’s state of residence, and local jurisdictions

In addition to the aforementioned rights, permanent residents also have the following responsibilities:

  • Permanent residents must obey the laws of the United States, the separate states, and all localities
  • They must file income tax returns and report their income to the United States Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities
  • Green Card holders are expected to support the United States’ democratic form of government and not to change the government through illegal means
  • Male Green Card holders who are 18 through 25 are required to register with the Selective Service

Green Cards

A Green Card is the informal name for a U.S. government issued I.D. that serves as proof of an individual’s permanent residency status. The official title for Green Cards is the United States Permanent Resident Card. However, it is often referred to as a Green Card because it was the color green from 1946 through 1964, and again from 2010 on. Green Card holders should keep in mind that like any lawful permanent resident, they can have their status revoked and removed from the U.S. if they violate certain conditions.

San Antonio Immigration Attorney Brigitte Garza has processed numerous Lawful Permanent Residency applications and will be happy to assist you with your Adjustment of Status petition. Please contact her for additional information or to schedule an appointment.

Green Card Lottery

Every year 50,000 green cards are allocated through a random drawing popularly known as the green card lottery. You can enter the lottery if you are a native of a qualifying country and have a high school diploma.

The initial registration is free but you can be disqualified if the application is not properly completed. A new application is required every year.

If your name has been drawn in the lottery, you must act quickly to apply for a green card. You will be given a case number, which is also called a rank number. Since the United States notifies twice as many people as there are green cards available, it is possible that even though you win the lottery, that year’s green card allotment will be used up before your own interview is scheduled.

You must enter the United States within 6 months of a successful green card application. However, a person only obtains official green card status after being inspected and admitted into the United States. The actual physical green card will be ordered and sent by mail to you.

Citizenship and Naturalization

If you were born outside of the United States and wish to become U.S. citizens, you must go through a process called Naturalization. The naturalization process is fairly extensive and includes a number of tests and  eligibility requirements. Be aware that when someone applies for citizenship, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will thoroughly investigate your background and history.

If you apply for naturalization and USCIS becomes aware that you have committed a crime, provided false documents to obtain a Green Card, or lived outside the United States without permission, you risk being deported. Immigration Attorney Brigitte Garza is familiar with the process of Naturalization and will help you become a citizen.

Requirements for Citizenship

Generally speaking, the requirements to become a naturalized citizen are the following:

  • You must be at least 18 years old when you file the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization also known as Citizenship Application
  • You must have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years
  • You must demonstrate continuous residency in the United States for at least the 5 years preceding the date you filed Form N-400
  • You must show that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 5 years preceding the date you filed Form N-400
  • You must be able to read, write, and speak basic English
  • You must have a basic understanding of United States history and government
  • You must be a person of good moral character
  • You must demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution

After confirming that you meet the above eligibility requirements, you must then take the following steps:

  • Confirm that they’re not already a U.S. citizen
  • Prepare and submit Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization
  • Attend the biometric (fingerprinting) appointment
  • Complete the interview and take the necessary English and civics tests if they weren’t granted a waiver
  • Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States once a positive decision from the USCIS has been received
  • Make sure to understand your rights and responsibilities as a U.S. citizen

If you have concerns about your eligibility for citizenship or want guidance through this process, please contact San Antonio Immigration Attorney Brigitte Garza for more information.