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Important Basic Points to Maintaining Status as a Resident Introduction


The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) and the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”), govern the maintenance of status. There are also cases that have been decided by the courts that determine what the law means in certain contexts. The resulting “immigration law” is vast. It takes time to review and understand. Experience with government agency can also be an important component of insight as to what may occur with a case. As a result, information contained in web sites should not be used in reliance of what to do. As tempting as it may be to avoid paying legal fees, immigration law relates to person’s life as they know it. It relates to their future and potential not only to be safe from harm and be free, but to prosper. One could say that immigration law is the most important part obtaining the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Traveling Out of the U.S.
You may abandon you resident status if you leave the United States. The government of the United States will initially have the burden of proving that you abandoned your status if you leave the United States and are gone for less than 180 days. However, the alien has the burden of proving that you did not abandon your status if the trip is more than 180 days but less than 1 year. If an alien leaves the U.S. and does not enter over a year, the alien automatically loses their LPR status. There are certain applications to prevent this occurrence. It is best to file these applications before you depart.

Admission and Removal
Additionally, you are subject to the terms of admission each time you enter the U.S. with your resident status. Additionally you are subject to all grounds of removal while living here. Although there are many grounds of inadmissibility and removal, too many to cover in this correspondence, remember this, you should not plead to or admit to any criminal charges without first consulting an immigration lawyer.

Even if your application for admission has been approved and you have been a long term resident the wrong plea or admission can cause your denial of naturalization, removal or denial of admission to the United States. Moreover, the term of any sentence, category of crime and whether or not the punishment was “deferred” or “suspended” does not necessarily insulate you from triggering removal, inadmissibility or the denial of naturalization under federal law. We strongly urge anyone charged or accused of a crime to call our office before making any decision on how to handle a criminal charge.

Obtaining Citizenship
Should you maintain your residency in the U.S. continuously and legally, you will be eligible to become a U.S. Citizen. Applications for Citizenship can be filed 3 months ahead of the eligibility date. If you remain married to a U.S. Citizen from the time your LPR status was granted, you are eligible to apply for naturalization after 3 years. If you are not married to the same U.S. Citizen then the eligibility period is 5 years. It is very important to apply as soon as you can. Not only may you include minor children in your application by doing so, but you may also prevent problems with your status in the future. Too often, we seek people who were once approvable as U.S. Citizens end up in removal proceedings, sometimes without the eligibility to fight to stay.

Written by Sanjay Mathur
January 7, 2009