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What Are the Common Ways to Lose Your Green Card and Permanent Resident Status?

There are many ways to lose your Green Card and Permanent Resident Status. Professionals from Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys explain more. Call us now!

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Updated on: February 15, 2023.

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Can A Green Card Holder Lose Their Lawful Permanent Resident Status?

As its name implies, permanent resident status is usually permanent. It is awarded to individuals who wish to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.

Your status as a legal permanent resident in the United States may not be as permanent as you may think. The U.S. can revoke your privilege to hold a green card. Permanent residency in the United States can be lost for several reasons.

The loss of permanent resident status is different from the loss of your green card, which means you have lost your green card status. You can read this guide on reporting lost green cards if you only lost your card.

Only a legal permanent resident who becomes a US citizen is immune to most of these grounds for removal. In the article, the most common methods of losing permanent resident status are discussed.

Using Form I-407 to Voluntarily Refuse a Green Card

Voluntary surrender is the easiest way to lose your permanent residence status. Interestingly, many people file Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status, to abandon their permanent status in the United States.

People Abandon their U.S. Status, including:

  • Moving to another country: To become a legal permanent resident of another country, you must abandon your current status

  • Relocating permanently to your home country

  • Paying taxes in multiple countries: Legal permanent residents of the United States must pay taxes to the government. People often abandon their US permanent residency status if they pay taxes in another country.

After abandoning your Permanent Resident Card and status, you will still be able to apply for immigration to the United States in the future; however, you will have to start from scratch and reapply.

In addition, the decision to abandon the status of a lawful permanent resident is irrevocable. The individual must reapply for lawful permanent resident status after relinquishing it. Hence, one should carefully consider abandoning their status as a lawful permanent resident before doing so.

Residing Outside the United States

Deportation can be triggered if you live outside the country for more than 12 months. Several shorter absences can also lead to deportation.

Consequently, you must convince Customs and Border Protection officers that you intend to remain in the United States when re-entering the country.

A failure to persuade the authorities of your intentions may result in deportation proceedings. You might also trigger abandonment cancellation proceedings if you fail to file your income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

Many people unwittingly trigger the cancellation of their green cards when they travel abroad for a long period. However, this is simple to prevent. The re-entry permit is required for permanent residents who plan on leaving the country for a prolonged period of time. Re-entry permits are usually valid for two years.

There are certain exemptions for US government personnel and their families who hold lawful permanent resident status while residing abroad for official overseas assignments or commissions.

Exceptions also apply for permanent residents with “commuted status” who have green cards and work in the United States but reside in Canada or Mexico.

Crime Involving Moral Turpitude

Criminal offenses of moral turpitude, such as aggravated felonies or the sale of illicit drugs, are deportability grounds that can result in you losing your green card status.

You will need the assistance of an immigration lawyer to assist you with the removal procedure, as well as an experienced criminal lawyer to assist you with the criminal charges against you.


Failure to Remove Residency Conditions


Residents who fail to remove residency restrictions before their two-year green card expires are subject to deportation. This applies to non-citizens who have earned permanent residency via marriage.

Spouses who have been married to US citizens for less than two years obtain a conditional green card for two years. Once the temporary card expires, it cannot be renewed. Unless your immigration status is adjusted within 90 days before your conditional Green Card expires, you will lose your permanent resident status.

Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation

Someone commits fraud when they lie to obtain immigration benefits of any type. Under the immigration laws of the U.S., any untruthful assertions or representations of facts may result in serious immigration issues and the eventual loss of permanent resident status.

Fraud may occur during the documents’ preparation, the submission of evidence, and the interview and other information communication between the applicant and the immigration authority.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services assess the possibility of fraud when extending immigrant visas, adjusting status, obtaining work authorization, and granting parole.

Fraudulent marriages and fraudulent visas are two common ways green card holders lose their permanent residence status.


Marriage Fraud

Marriage has long been a target of fraud since marrying a US citizen is one of the fastest ways to get a green card. Consequently, dishonest people exploit it to deceptively obtain permanent residency. Marriage fraud may take several forms. USCIS has recognized the following kinds of marriage fraud:

  • Someone pays an American citizen to marry them

  • A foreign national defrauds an American citizen who thinks their marriage is valid

  • A US citizen marries an immigrant as a favor to help a foreign national obtain permanent resident status

  • Mail-order weddings (where either the US citizen or the immigrant knows that the marriage is fraudulent)


Non-Immigrant Visa Fraud

Most foreign nationals seeking a non-immigrant visa to the United States must establish that they intend to return home upon completing their chosen program or activity. This requirement, known as non-immigrant intent, requires the applicant to have a foreign domicile that they do not intend to relinquish.

The US Department of State evaluates situations where a non-immigrant tries to change or adjust status to immigrant status using a 90-day rule. Within 90 days of admission, there is a presumption of fraud if an individual breaches their non-immigrant status or participates in behavior inconsistent with that status.

For instance, visiting the United States on a B-2 visa to get married and completing Form I-485 to change status would violate the provisions of the visa.

Loss of Permanent Resident Status Upon Naturalization

The only possible good result on this list is losing permanent resident status to become a naturalized US citizen. After you become a naturalized citizen of the United States, you are shielded from deportation, making your existence in the United States of America stable and lawful.

Applicants for naturalization who have lived in the United States for at least five years can submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.


Still Have Questions About Losing Permanent Residence? Call Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys


The information provided in this article is by no means exhaustive, nor does it substitute for the services of a competent immigration lawyer. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney if you are in danger of losing your green card.

Few criminal attorneys are well-versed in US immigration laws and are aware of the impact of special pleas on immigration status. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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