Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs or green card holders) have a unique status in the US. They are allowed to legally stay and work in the US, but they are can still be deported since they are not US citizens. There are many ways a green card holder may lose his LPR status and this article will discuss three most common ways: crimes involving moral turpitude, conditional resident status and abandonment.
Reason 1: Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
By far, one of the most uncertain situations in immigration occurs when a green card holder commits a crime. LPRs are not deported for all crimes, but only crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT). CIMTs can be confusing because it involves state crimes, but it is the federal government which reviews the state’s statutes in determining what is a CIMT. In other words, a person commits a state crime but the federal government interprets the state law in making its own federal decision.
As a result, what may be a CIMT in one state may not be a CIMT in another state, even though the names of the crimes are similar. In determining what is a CIMT, courts generally look to whether the state statute contained elements of fraud, dishonesty, an intent to do harm and other behavior with “readiness to do evil.” Committing a CIMT can result in arrest and deportation. It is important to speak with an immigration attorney about CIMT, since criminal defense attorneys may not take your immigration status into account when making deals with the prosecution.
Reason 2: Conditional Resident Status
Another reason an LPR might be deported is if his LPR was conditional; in most instances, this involves a fiancee visa. A fiancee visa is issued to a soon-to-be bridge/groom to marry a US citizen only (no LPRs). The visa allows the bride/groom to marry within 90 days. Upon marriage, the spouse of the US citizen receives conditional resident status that they remain married to the US citizen spouse. Of course, there are many exceptions such as domestic abuse and others. The conditional resident status must be removed during the 90 days before the second anniversary of the conditional residence status date. Not removing this condition may result in unlawful status and possible deportation.
Reason 3: Abandonment
Obtaining a green card is a long process, but losing it can happen very quickly. It is possible for a person to abandon their green card, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. A green card holder can file a form to abandon their green card, but this is somewhat rare and should be considered only in very specific circumstances. The other more common scenario is involuntarily abandonment. This occurs when the green card holder is outside the US for an extended period of time.
Simply coming into the US once in a while will not count. There must be an intent to stay in the US. This can be done by filing taxes, renting a home or working in the US. In other words, there must be an intent to stay in the US when you have a green card. Leaving the country for an extended amount of time without any of the above precautions can be inferred that the LPR has no intent to stay in the US and therefore intends to abandon their green card.