Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status

Who is a Lawful Permanent Resident?

A Lawful Permanent Resident is an alien or a non-US citizen who has been authorized to live permanently and work in the US. Lawful Permanent Residents hold immigrant visa and are thus authorized to enter, stay and work in the United States. They are also referred to as immigrants or “green card holders”.


How can an alien acquire Lawful Permanent Resident status?

Aliens or foreign nationals may acquire the status of a Legal Permanent Resident when a petition is filed by their immediate relative who has already acquired LPR status.  They may also acquire LPR status through employment or by establishing a business in the United States.  Other persons may also acquire LPR status under special circumstances, such as those who are eligible for refugee or asylum, those who are victims of crimes such as human trafficking or domestic violence, those who are eligible under immigration amnesty laws, and those who may be informants or witnesses in a criminal prosecution or investigation in the US.


What are the processes for obtaining LPR status?

The processes for obtaining LPR status is different for those seeking to acquire it through family, through employment, by establishing a business or through special circumstances.  When acquiring LPR through a family member, a petition must be filed. When acquiring LPR through employment, the US employer will usually petition the Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Labor. Aliens staying in the US on a non-immigrant visa may adjust their status by filing a petition. However, some principles of eligibility are common to all.


What are the common principles of eligibility for LPR status?

  1. Persons applying for LPR status must be a foreign national or alien.
  2. They may be outside the United States, or, if they are in the US, they must have entered the US legally, that is, they had a valid visa and they went through inspection at a US port of entry.
  3. They must possess all the admissibility requirements.
  4. They must possess none of the inadmissibility criteria.
  5. They must qualify for the immigrant visa which they apply for. For example, if a person applies for LPR status based on family relationship, he or she must prove the family relationship with the LPR who filed the petition on his or her behalf.


What are the benefits of acquiring LPR status?

A lawful permanent resident may live permanently in the US and obtain employment. They can travel in and out of the United States. They can petition members of their immediate family to come and live in the US as well. They will be protected by all the laws of the United States, the laws of the state where they reside and the city or county where they reside. After a certain number of years, a person who possesses LPR status can apply for naturalization and acquire US citizenship.

Other benefits include being able to own property in the US and receiving financial assistance while attending public colleges or universities. If you have actively contributed to Social Security, you may receive benefits in accordance with your contributions.


What are the responsibilities of a lawful permanent resident?

Lawful permanent residents must be law-abiding citizens.  They must file and pay income tax and report all income to the Internal Revenue Service. They owe allegiance to the United States and to its democratic form of government. If they are required, they must register with the Selective Service.


Can I ever lose my lawful permanent resident status?

Yes, you may lose your lawful permanent resident status if you commit a crime and you are found guilty of it. You may also lose your lawful permanent resident status by abandoning it, moving to another country with the intention of living there permanently. You may also lose your lawful permanent resident status if you remain outside the United States for an extended period, usually for 1 year or more.  If you fail to file your income tax return or declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” in your tax returns.


Do you want to know if you are eligible to acquire legal permanent resident status in the US?  The immigration lawyers at Lluis Law can help you. Call them today.