The short, and unfortunate, answer is: YES. Too many people believe that once they have a green card or have attained Legal Permanent Resident status, they will not face removal proceedings. This is simply not true. While being an LPR does bring with it a certain level of permanence, individuals can still violate certain government regulations and end up facing deportation.
What are the two main ways a green card holder can be removed from the United States?
Commonly, there are two ways that an LPR can face removal proceedings:
- Leaving the United States for extended periods of time.
- Violating the law.
It is crucial that you fully understand the rules and restrictions you face when you have a green card.
Leaving The United States
While green card holders can certainly exit and enter the U.S., but there are certain restrictions that must be followed. For example, you can lose your U.S. residency and be barred from reentry. There are some common factors to consider:
- If you leave the U.S., it is wise to return within six months
- Avoid leaving the U.S. for more than a year
- If you must be out of the U.S. for more than a year, you should apply for a reentry permit
While it might be impossible for immigration officials to truly prove your intention regarding permanent residency, it is crucial that you protect yourself.
Violating The Law
Unfortunately, there is no specific list of exactly which crimes can initiate removal proceedings. Complicating matters more is the fact that you don’t even have to face criminal charges – a civil proceeding might trigger a possible deportation. Generally, any law that has a “moral” element to it is grounds for deportation. For example, legal proceedings centering on fraud, theft and sex offenses might be enough to initiate removal proceedings.
If you are a legal permanent resident, it is wise to discuss your unique situation with an immigration lawyer. Facing a criminal charge or if you are barred reentry – these are specific circumstances that many attorneys have no experience with.