Lawful permanent residents are non-citizens that are allowed to live and work in the U.S. permanently. Also known as LPRs, lawful permanent residents can:
- Get jobs
- Join the U.S. Armed Forces
- Get financial aid at colleges and universities without any undue restrictions
- Be protected by city, state, and national laws
- Vote in local elections
Once awarded LPR status, you will receive a Green Card as proof of living legally in the U.S. Despite your permanent status, you will need to renew your Green Card every 10 years. You will not lose your lawful permanent status if you fail to renew.
How to Gain Lawful Status
You will need to file Form I-485 and make any payments to the Department of Homeland Security.
Along with filing the proper paperwork, you must prove some sort of eligibility for gaining lawful status in the U.S., including:
Getting a sponsorship through a family member or employer based in the U.S.
If getting sponsorship through a family member, you are immediately eligible to adjust status if you get an immediate relative to sponsor you. The immediate relative can be a spouse, unmarried child younger than 21, or parents older than 21 years of age. Other family relations, such as siblings, can also sponsor you but there may be a wait.
For family based sponsorships, the sponsor must earn a certain income before providing support. For example, supporting one person would need the sponsor to make at least $21,000 to qualify. To figure out if you make enough, or alternatives if your sponsor does not make enough income, contact an immigration lawyer to help you.
If you have successfully filed for asylum or refugee status, you need to live in the U.S. for at least 1 year. You also need to be considered a refugee as defined by the law. You must be living consistently in the U.S. and are not in the process of resettling to another country upon the time of your application for LPR status.
If you have lived in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972, and can prove this, you can file on your own behalf.
Lawful Permanent Resident vs. Citizenship
A lawful permanent resident is not a citizen. Once an LPR becomes a citizen, they get all the rights of someone born in the United States. You will never have to renew your Green Card again.
Applying and getting U.S. citizenship allows you to:
- Vote in federal elections
- Leave the U.S. without the danger of losing your status
- Get U.S. passports for travel
- Sponsor other relatives to come to the U.S.
Even if you are found to commit criminal activity, your citizenship cannot be revoked. You are allowed to stay in the United States permanently and without penalty regarding your country of origin.
If you are looking to extend the duration of your Green Card from 2 to 10 years, you can file to become a lawful permanent resident via Form I-751 or Form I-829 for entrepreneurs. Both forms could help remove the conditions of your stay and help you adjust your status.
Ready to Become a Lawful Permanent Resident?
The attorneys at Salmón-Haas can help walk you through the steps of gaining lawful permanent resident status. We can work towards giving you the solutions you need regarding your residency and if there are other options which might improve your life. Contact us today to work towards a permanent residency.