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Can you lose your green card?

Your green card makes you a permanent resident. That said, it's not necessarily a permanent status, despite the name. You can lose it, and there are two main ways that people do so:

  • They break the law and face a criminal conviction.

  • They leave the United States and do not return for an "extended" period of time.

The first rule is fairly easy to follow. As long as you avoid legal violations, you're not risking anything. Following the law is an expectation for anyone living in the United States, no matter where they were born.

The second rule is tricky because the extended period of time is not perfectly defined. There's no set rule.

People often fall prey to the myth that you just have to come back into the United States one time annually. That may work, but remember that it is not the law. It's not the rule. You could do that and still find your status revoked.

That said, here are a few tips if you do need to leave the country:

  • Do not stay away for more than six months. Even though there is no set rule about the time, those who come back within half of a year typically do not run into any issues.
  • Never leave for over 12 months in a row.
  • If you have to break the above rule, plan ahead. Those who will be outside of the country for more than 12 months can apply to get a special reentry permit.

As you can see, no matter your status, it's crucial to know how immigration laws work and what rights and obligations you have.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Keep Your Green Card," accessed Feb. 02, 2018

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