How long can I keep my green card? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
I had a consult the other day with a nice young man from Ghana and he was a bit surprised to find out that he could keep his green card forever. And I was like, “Yes sir, you can keep your green card forever.” And I’ve seen green cards from the 1950s, from the 1960s.
Now you have to renew them and you wouldn’t get to keep a green card from so long ago, but you can maintain your lawful permanent resident status in the United States for the rest of your life.
You do not have to become a citizen and it is your right to stay as a lawful permanent resident. Now there are things that can put your green card in peril and danger and that would be things like if you committed a crime or if you stayed out of the United States for too long.
Those kinds of things are ways that you can lose your lawful permanent resident status, but if you don’t do those things, you can keep your green card forever. For as long as you’re alive, obviously. And so that surprises some people, but that’s why they call it permanent residence. And so even if you lose your green card, you’re still an LPR, you’re still a lawful resident.
You would just need to get a new green card. And now there are reasons of course that you might want to get your citizenship because you’ll get to vote, you get to serve on juries, you get to have your voice heard.
And also you have a better priority in applying for immigration benefits for family members, like your parents or your siblings, which you’re not able to do if you’re a lawful permanent resident. Same for fiances, only US citizens can sponsor fiances.
So there’s all kinds of reasons to get your citizenship. Most importantly, because for the most part, if you get your citizenship, they can’t and won’t deport you. So lots of good reasons to get your citizenship. I think that these current times have forced a lot of lawful permanent residents to at least consider applying for their citizenship.
But an answer to the question, you do not have to become a US citizen. You don’t have to apply after five years. You don’t have to apply after 20 years. You can apply whenever you feel like it. So we hope you found that helpful. We hope that if you are a lawful permanent resident, that you’re following all the rules and that you get to keep your green card for as long as you want.
If you need help, though, in sponsoring a family member or in moving on up to a citizenship realm of status in the United States, we’d love to help you, (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected] Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you liked this video, we ask that you share it out on social and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.