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What are my rights and duties as a green card holder?

When a person living in South Carolina obtains a green card, the status as a lawful permanent resident brings with it certain rights as well as several responsibilities. It is important for green card holders to understand both, as it is possible to lose permanent resident status if the responsibilities are not followed.

Becoming a lawful permanent resident brings both protections and freedoms. Green card holders enjoy the protections afforded by all of the laws of the country, the ability to work in any profession for which they are qualified and the freedom to live on a permanent basis in the United States. Those rights may be lost, however, if the person fails to meet the responsibilities the status also carries.

Green card holders must obey the law at all times, as certain types of convictions may result in a loss of status and removal proceedings. They must also report all income and file their income tax returns as required and to support the democratic form of government as it stands in the country. Men between the ages of 18 and 25 years old must also register with the Selective Service.

Permanent resident status allows people to seek employment in the country without the need to seek visas as well as the ability to freely move from state to state. Since the status may be lost, it is very important that people follow the laws at all times and that they are aware of the potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. Permanent residents who want the right to vote and other greater rights than those afforded by a green card may want to meet with an immigration and naturalization attorney in order to discuss becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Rights and Responsibilities of a Green Card Holder (Permanent Resident)", Aug. 16, 2010

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