Permanent Residents Have Rights, Responsibilities and Privileges

Immigrants who’ve become permanent residents in the United States have certain rights and responsibilities as they’re granted permission to live and work in the country.  While permanent residents remain citizens of their native-born countries, they are protected under U.S., state and local laws that apply to American citizens and are also bestowed with the freedom to travel outside the country and then return to the United States.

Working with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), immigrants can petition for permanent residency in a number of ways. The most common of these ways is through U.S. citizen family members and employers. Immigrants who are granted permanent residency status are issued a green card, a document that shows legal residency status.

While permanent residents hold basic rights, USCIS describes stipulations on the status. For example, immigration law allows for deportation in cases where permanent residents take removable actions. And although permanent residents have the right to pursue any form of work that’s considered legal, jobs affecting national security are often limited to U.S. citizens.

In terms of a permanent resident’s responsibilities, immigrants are expected to:

Obey U.S., state and local laws

File income tax returns and to report income to the Internal Revenue Service and also to state taxing authorities

Support democratic government and to not change government structure through illegal means

Register with the Selective Service in cases where the permanent resident is a male aged 18-25

While living and working in the United States holds fundamental appeal to permanent residents, the ability to travel abroad and then return to their adoptive country is a primary privilege bestowed to those holding a green card. As long as a permanent resident has demonstrated the intention to make the United States their permanent home, travel outside the United States usually doesn’t affect permanent residency status. “If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home,” according to USCIS, “you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status.”

Generally speaking, USCIS doesn’t determine abandonment of status when a permanent resident’s travel outside the country doesn’t last for more than a year. Filing and paying taxes as well as other actions demonstrating the intention to make a permanent home in the United States are taken into consideration when a USCIS officer explores the question of abandonment of permanent residency status.