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A Quick Tip for After You Get Your Green Card

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What's a quick tip after I get my green card? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. A lot of people work really, really hard to get their green cards. They might come to the United States as an asylee or as a refugee or receive asylum. They might get their green card based on marriage. They might get it through some other kind of family connection, or they might get it through employment. They might even get it through the Diversity Visa if the Biden administration gets Diversity Visas fixed and starts working on those cases again, instead of relying on legacy Donald Trump era policies regarding the Diversity Visa, but don't let me rant. What I mean is after you get your green card, you have lawful permanent resident status. And the tip is this.

If you think that at any point in your future, that you're going to apply for citizenship, you need to do something for me. And what that is, is I want you to create a table or a little document. It can be even in a notebook. And in that notebook, we're going to keep track of any trips that we take outside of the United States. Because when we apply for a citizenship, it's going to be our burden to demonstrate that we have lived in the United States for at least half the time before we apply. So if we're applying on the three-year rule, because we're married to a U.S. citizen and we're eligible to apply for citizenship after three years, then we need to demonstrate and prove that we have been in the United States for at least a year and a half. Similarly, if we're applying under the five-year rule, if we got our green card through some other means, or if we're not married to a U.S. citizen, we have to show that you've been in the United States for two and a half years out of the last five.

So here's the trick. Here's the tip. When you receive your green card, start that notebook right away. It's very difficult if you wait until citizenship to try to remember all of your trips. It's much easier if you keep that going as your life in America continues. So in other words, after you get your green card, you want to have a column that says left the United States, reentered the United States, countries that I've visited, even if it's just through transit, and the number of days I was outside the United States. Because don't forget, it's your burden to demonstrate that you are eligible for citizenship. And it's your burden to demonstrate that you've been in the United States for at least half the time. And I would say, it's your burden too, to demonstrate that you don't have any trips over six months. So this chart is really going to keep you on track.

We have clients who travel a lot. I was talking to a young man the other day. He's a pilot and he flies back and forth to Canada a lot. And he spends a little bit of time in Canada. And then he comes back. When he applies for citizenship, that's going to be a nightmare. He's going to have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of USAS all of his travel dates, all of his time in the United States, all of his time outside of the United States. And of course, they're viewing it with an eye towards denying his case. So if he comes in very organized and demonstrates that these are the dates that I traveled, this is the total amount of time I had outside of the United States. I didn't have any trips more than six months.

That's much, much better than showing up at your interview and going, yeah, I went to Mexico in October. I don't really know how many days it was. That's not what you want. You want to be very detailed, very organized, and you want to start keeping track of it now so that you don't have to recreate that information at the later time that you apply for citizenship. Hope this makes sense. Hope this tip helps you out. If it did, or if you have questions, give us a call 314-961-8200. You can email us [email protected]. Be sure to join us on our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social and the subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos, just like this one. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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