Responsibilities of a US Green Card Holder
A US green card offers many benefits and advantages. Green card holders can sponsor relatives to come and live in the US and may be able to enjoy some of the government benefits that are not available to visa holders. As well, having a green card means enjoying permanent residence in the US, which makes it possible to live and work in the US and to leave and return to the US more freely, without fear of losing status. However, while having a green card offers all sorts of benefits, having a US green card also means certain responsibilities. Green card holders have a responsibility to:
- Carry their green card with them at all times. A US green card is an important document, and it is required that you carry your green card at all times and offer it as identification whenever an authority requests it. Failure to carry your green card can make it hard to prove your legal status, and can result in legal problems.
- Renew their green card as needed. While the status conferred by a green card is permanent, the green card itself is only valid for ten years, in most cases. This means that even though you will remain a permanent resident even after your green card expires, you will need to renew your green card about six months before it expires. Failure to do so can result in legal problems. Carrying around an outdated and expired green card is as useless as carrying around no green card at all.
- Replace green cards that are damaged, lost, stolen, or outdated. If your green card is damaged, lost, or stolen, it is important to request a replacement right away so that you can still have a valid green card with you. If your US green card has been lost or stolen, it is also important to report that to the USCIS and to local police. That way, if anyone tries to misuse your green card or tries to use it to commit a crime, you will not be held responsible. If your green card is outdated, you will need to ensure that you get a new card with your current information on it.
- Obey the laws of the US. Never lend your green card to anyone or abuse the privileges of your green card. Obey all US laws. Failure to do so can affect your residency in the US and can make it hard for you to secure US citizenship, if you eventually wish to do so.
- Exercise caution when leaving the US for an extended period of time. While permanent residency is permanent, extended periods of absence from the US can mean that you are no longer considered to be maintaining a permanent residence in the US. If you have a conditional green card, you can lose your status. As well, prolonged absence can affect your eligibility requirements for US citizenship. If you plan on being outside of the US for a prolonged period of time, visit the USCIS website to find out about current laws and requirements for your situation.