The next steps after you get an approved green card are crucial to maintaining the green card.
Knowing what to and not to do after getting an approved green card is the best way to maintain good standing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This significantly increases your chances of obtaining citizenship.
- If the USCIS approves your petition for permanent residence, you will receive the green card via mail, usually within 30 days. The timeline varies depending on various factors, such as government backlogs.
- Knowing the dos and don’ts of maintaining your green card is essential. Failure to play by the rules could jeopardize your immigration status.
- Keep track of all critical dates. The last thing you want is to lose your immigration benefits because you failed to renew your green card or honor other essential deadlines.
Apply for a New Social Security Card
After getting a green card, you will be eligible for a new Social Security Card. The new card comes without work restrictions, meaning you are free to live and work anywhere in the United States just as long as your green card remains valid.
When you apply for a new Social Security card, you will still be able to keep your current social security number. The main difference is that the new card will not have work restrictions.
How to Avoid Losing Your Permanent Resident Status
Your permanent resident card comes with some terms and conditions you must follow. Here is an overview:
Abandonment of Status
While having a green card allows you to live in the U.S. and travel without restrictions, staying out of the country for more than a year could jeopardize your status.
To avoid losing your green card due to ‘abandonment of status‘, you should apply for a reentry permit no later than 60 days before leaving the United States.
To prove that you did not abandon your status, you will need to provide proof of permanent residency in the U.S.
How to Prove Permanent Residency in the U.S.
Here are some ways to prove permanent residency in the U.S.
- File your taxes on time and keep records of your tax returns
- Consider buying property in the US
- Obtain a driver’s license in any of the 50 US states
- Provide legal documentation such as a will or bank statements
- Establish familial relationships with family members or friends in the USA
Willful Misrepresentation or Fraud
You risk losing your green card if you commit willful misrepresentation or fraud. The most common causes of green card fraud usually involve marriage green cards and non-immigrant visas.
Marriage Green Card Fraud Explained
Marriage green card fraud involves getting married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to obtain a green card. Other examples of marriage green card fraud include visa lottery marriages, mail-order marriages, and paying U.S. citizens or eligible permanent residents to sponsor an immigrant for a green card.
Non-immigrant visa fraud involves applying for a non-immigrant visa to gain entry into the United States to obtain a green card through marriage or other means.
Participating in Certain Crimes
Being involved in criminal activities can jeopardize your green card. However, this also depends on the nature of the criminal behavior. The following are examples of deportable offenses:
- Domestic violence crimes
- Firearm offenses
- Aggravated crimes
- Crimes of moral turpitude
- Crimes involving controlled substances
If you are a permanent resident and have been convicted of a crime, consider speaking with an experienced immigration attorney.
Failure to Remove Conditions on Residence
If you have a temporary green card, it is important that you know when to renew it. You can do this by filing a petition to remove the conditionality of the green card. This petition must be filed within the last 90 days of the green card’s expiration. In other words, you should file the petition at least three months before the green card expires.
The two-year conditional green card is mostly issued to individuals who seek to obtain permanent residency through marriage. The USCIS gives them a two-year conditional green card to test the legitimacy of their marriage.
If you fail to renew your two-year conditional green card (Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence), you cannot renew it. As a result, you may be eligible for deportation.
Remember Important Dates
After obtaining your green card, it is essential to keep track of important dates relating to your immigration status. For example, if you are a conditional permanent resident, meaning you have a two-year conditional green card, you will be required to file a petition to remove the conditions.
As mentioned earlier, this petition must be filed within the last 90 days before the conditional green card expires. If you do not file it within this timeframe, your green card will expire, making you eligible for deportation.
If you have a 10-year permanent resident card, you can apply for citizenship within five years of being a legal permanent resident or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. However, if you let your 10-year green card expire, you will need to apply for a new one.
Applying for U.S. Citizenship
One of the benefits of obtaining a permanent resident card is that it opens up the possibility of becoming a U.S. citizen. Here is how to go about this process.
Requirements to Become a U.S. Citizen
To become a U.S. citizen, you must:
- be a legal permanent resident of the U.S. (a permanent green card holder);
- have maintained your permanent residency status for at least five years or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen;
- be at least 18 years old when you file the petition to become a U.S. citizen;
- able to read, write, and speak basic English; and
- be of good moral character.
Filing the Petition to Become a U.S. Citizen
To file a petition to become a U.S. citizen, you must fill out Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You can only do this if you meet other eligibility requirements.
The USCIS allows you to create an account on its website, where you will receive updates about your case. Here’s a detailed guide on creating a USCIS online account.
Here is all you need to do:
- Fill out and sign your Form N-400
- Collect all the required documents to support your petition
- Review the petition to ensure you have filed out everything correctly
- Submit your petition to the USCIS
You must pay an application fee and a biometric service fee.
If you wish to seek an exception to the English and/or civics test due to mental impairment or developmental disability, or other acceptable reasons. In that case, you must obtain a medical certification for disability exceptions. You can do this by filling out Form N-648.
While your petition is pending, you will be required to attend a biometrics screening and provide two passport-style photos.
After meeting all requirements, you will need to attend a naturalization interview. The USCIS will provide you with the date, time, and location of the interview.
Read More | Naturalization Explained in Detail
What Happens at a Naturalization Interview?
During the naturalization interview with a USCIS official, they will ask questions about your petition and background. In addition, you will take an English and civics test.
You may file a petition to waive this requirement if you do not want to take the English and civics test and have a valid reason, such as a developmental disability.
Overview of the English Test for U.S. Citizenship
The English test is not meant to test your grammar, punctuation, spelling, or anything along those lines. Instead, it comprises three components:
You will pass the test if you prove that you can read, write, and speak basic English.
More Info | U.S Citizenship Interview, Explained
Overview of the Civics Test for US Citizenship
The civics test contains questions about US history and government. There are up to 100 civics questions you need to study for. The USCIS official will only ask you 10 of the questions. To pass the test, you must correctly answer at least six of the ten questions.
If you fail the civics test, the USCIS official will schedule another interview with you within 60 and 90 days after the initial examination. This gives you enough time to practice for the test.
If you pass the naturalization interview, you must take the Oath of Allegiance. It is important to note that you are not a US citizen until you take the Oath at a naturalization ceremony conducted by the USCIS.
After taking the Oath, you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization, confirming your status as a US citizen.
Green Card Next Steps FAQs
What Happens to Your Green Card When You Become a US Citizen?
During the naturalization ceremony, the USCIS officer will take your green card and issue you a Certificate of Naturalization. This means you will no longer have your green card because you will be a US citizen from that moment forward. You cannot have a certificate of naturalization and a green card simultaneously.
How Do I Know if My Green Card is Approved?
After the green card interview, you will receive a notice from the USCIS via mail. The notice will include information about the USCIS’s decision about your application for a green card.
This notice is usually sent out within 30 days after the interview. It is important to note that the 30-day waiting period is subject to change due to federal government backlogs and other reasons.
What Happens After Your Green Card is Approved?
After your green card is approved, the USCIS will send you the original green card via mail. If you apply for the two-year conditional green card, you will have the chance to remove the conditions if you file such a petition (Form I-751) within the last 90 days of the green card’s expiration date.
On the other hand, if you received the 10-year green card, you may be able to file for citizenship five years after receiving the green card or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen.
You risk being deported if you do not renew your two-year conditional permanent resident card before it expires.
What to Do if I Didn’t Receive My Green Card?
If you did not receive your green card within 90 days, you should first login to the online account you created with the USCIS. You can then use your case number and other identifying information to check the status of your green card application.
If you do not have an account with the USCIS, you can contact them directly to find out more information about your green card petition.
Make sure you understand the timeframes for your green card petition. These timeframes keep changing due to reasons such as the U.S. government backlogs.
Consider speaking with an experienced immigration attorney if you need further help.
What is a Welcome Notice From the USCIS?
If the USCIS approves your petition for a green card, they will send you a welcome notice. This is not your green card. It is just a notification informing you that your permanent resident card has been approved.
In most cases, applicants receive their green cards 30 days after receiving their welcome notice. If you do not receive your green card within 30 days after the notice, you may need to contact the USCIS for more information.
What If I Moved Since My Green Card Application Was Approved?
If you moved since your green card was approved, you would need to change your address online or contact the USCIS contact center.
Failure to update your residency information could jeopardize your immigration petition. You do not want the USCIS sending your important immigration documents to the wrong address.
What If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Denies My Application for a Green Card?
If the USCIS denies your petition for a green card, you may be able to file an appeal. Alternatively, depending on the nature of your case, you may be able to file a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision regarding your case.