Maintaining Permanent Residence

Once you become a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder), you maintain permanent resident status until you:

  • Apply for and complete the naturalization process; or

  • Lose or abandon your status.

There are several ways that you can lose your status as a lawful permanent resident.

Conditional Permanent Resident Status

Section 216 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows you to become a lawful permanent resident on a conditional basis, based on marriage.

Section 216A allows you to become a lawful permanent resident on a conditional basis, based on a qualifying investment.

Both sections allow us to terminate your conditional status as provided by the law (in the event of fraud, for example).

Removal Proceedings

You will lose your permanent resident status if an immigration judge issues a final removal order against you.

INA sections 212 and 237 describe the grounds on which you may be ordered removed from the United States.


We may place you into rescission proceedings at any time during the first five years after you became a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) if:

  • We determine you were not eligible to obtain a Green Card at the time we approved your adjustment of status (Green Card) application; and
  • You would not have been eligible for a Green Card under any other provision of law.

If your lawful permanent residence is rescinded, you will no longer be a Green Card holder and may be placed in removal proceedings.

Abandoning Permanent Resident Status

You may also lose your permanent resident status by intentionally abandoning it, including but not limited to:

  • Moving to another country and intending to live there permanently;
  • Declaring yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your U.S. tax returns; or
  • Remaining outside of the United States for an extended period of time, unless it’s a temporary absence, as shown by:
    • The reason for your trip;
    • How long you planned to be absent from the United States;
    • Any other circumstances of your absence; and
    • Any events that may have prolonged your absence.
  • Note: Obtaining a re-entry permit from USCIS before you leave, or a returning resident visa (SB-1) from a U.S. consulate while abroad, may help show that you planned for this to be a temporary absence.

Reporting Loss of Permanent Resident Status

Internal Revenue Code section 6039G(d)(3) requires the Department of Homeland Security to inform the Internal Revenue Service if you lose permanent resident status because you:

  • Have been ordered removed from the United States; or
  • Chose to abandon your status and surrender your Green Card.

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