The day you enter the USA after being approved through the Green Card lottery, you become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) – more usually known as a Green Card holder or permanent resident alien. What rights do you have compared to US citizens?
Well broadly speaking an LPR has nearly identical rights to a US citizen. The biggest difference is that the LPR cannot vote (and even that has a caveat). So – an LPR has the following rights among others:
- Live anywhere they want
- Travel anywhere in America without getting permission
- Work at any employer
- Run their own business and so on
- Own a gun (subject to local and state laws)
- Own/drive a car (subject to local and state laws)
- Protection from various forms of discrimination or harassment
- Petition immediately for a Green Card for a spouse or unmarried children (more detail here)
- Can apply for citizenship after 5 years (3 years if the LPR is married to a US citizen).
There are also obligations of a LPR, the same as a citizen and these start the day you enter the USA the first time.
- Report tax on USA and foreign income.
- File the Report of foreign bank and financial accounts (FBAR) annually if you have any foreign accounts with over $10k
Being an LPR has some specific obligations not shared by citizens.
- You need to inform USCIS if you change you address using this site.
- An LPR is required to carry their Green Card at all times (can be fined or even imprisoned)
A Green Card holder can also lose the LPR status in certain scenarios
- Leave the country for longer than 12 months without obtaining prior permission (re-entry permit)
- Certain serious crimes could lead to the revocation of the Green Card
Regarding voting. As an LPR you may be offered the chance to vote in local and state political elections. Even though you can do that, you should not do so since that can adversely affect a subsequent citizenship application.
There is a very nice information booklet that goes into more detail here.
November 23, 2015 at 21:10
Why not vote? How might this cause issues come citizenship time?
I would have thought it would be the other way around – that by voting in local / state elections – you are demonstrating a commitment to America by participating in their democratic process?
November 23, 2015 at 22:03
There are specific rules that prohibit LPRs from voting in federal, state or local elections that are only open to US citizens. So – it is best to avoid any sort of registration for voting so that you don’t have to figure out which you can participate in, and which you cannot. The question will come up when you apply for citizenship – and can lead to denial.
There is a good guide here.
April 23, 2016 at 20:38
I’m a LPR now, but turned back in my country to finish my studies. I read that a LPR have to pay taxes. Since I work and have a bank account prior to be a LPR, should I declare all my savings and salary?
April 23, 2016 at 22:59
Yes, you are supposed to file taxes on income earned worldwide. You probably won’t pay tax on it, but you must file.
May 29, 2019 at 09:54
Hi Brit, I am a DV 2018 winner, activation trip was this year in Jan. How do I file Tax? Or where can I find information on how to do it?
I am also a resident in Sweden, where I have indicated my residency in the US as part of FATCA.
It’s all a bit confusing still and I have not moved to the US permanently yet (plan next year but will visit in between and not be away for more than 12 months at a time).
May 29, 2019 at 13:32
You would not file a tax report until next year (to cover 2018). Between now and then, you can research – I am not a tax expert. Most people just file using tax software.
May 31, 2016 at 19:09
Me and my family plan to do a 2 weeks activation trip to US on June 9 2016 and then come back to Europe to wrap things up before permanently moving to US in Jan 2017.
When do we have to start filing taxes on income and assets to US?
May 31, 2016 at 19:58
From the start of your activation trip you wil be an LPR – so you will have to file for 2016 (which is filed in April 2017)
May 31, 2016 at 20:08
Thanks Simon, does that also apply for the FBAR or do I have to submit that one this year? Deadline June 30…
May 31, 2016 at 21:22
That would be the same as the tax filing.
June 21, 2016 at 06:40
“An LPR is required to carry their Green Card at all times (can be fined or even imprisoned)”
This is harsh, wouldn’t carrying a DL be enough for identification purposes? I never carry my GC around, it’s in a safe at home along with the SS card, I only take it when going out of country obviously.
June 21, 2016 at 15:12
Well, you have quoted the law – how you act is up to you. I carry my GC at all times.
August 31, 2016 at 02:47
“An LPR is required to carry their Green Card at all times (can be fined or even imprisoned)”
In what scenario will they ask us to show our green card? I am just curious, like if i get pulled over by the cops for speeding, will the cops ask me to show my drivers license and green card?. I thought they do not check our cards and status. If they did, wont they deport the undocumented people?
August 31, 2016 at 03:25
In-land Immigration Checkpoint might be one scenario where you’re asked to produce the GC.
August 31, 2016 at 04:25
The USCIS guidance says
“If you are a permanent resident who is 18 years old or older, you must carry proof of your immigration status. You must show it to an immigration officer or law enforcement officer if asked for it.”
So – police will rarely ask for it, but regardless of whether you think they have the right to ask for it or not, the best advice is to show it if requested.
October 20, 2016 at 10:22
I became a LPR last year and went to US for 6 weeks and then returned to my home country. I have have out of US for 16 months now. I did not intend to stay in my home country for this long but had to due to a personal issue. I was also unaware of the re-entry permit at that time so I do not have one. My question is what are my options if I wanted to move back and settle in US. My initial visit was the first since becoming an LPR.
Any advise would be really appreciated.
October 20, 2016 at 17:23
You have stayed out too long. You have put your Green Card at risk. You should contact the embassy and explain your case their to see if they will approve your re-entry.
May 25, 2017 at 20:53
We entered the country with my wife on 13th of May. And when i check the USCIS it seems that her Green Card is already on way. (Is it possible?) But my receipt number is still in “we received your payment status”
Do you think they will send them together? or not?
May 25, 2017 at 21:04
Some people get a card in a couple of weeks, others wait 3 or 4 months. Don’t worry about it either way.
September 22, 2017 at 11:13
How are you doing
When I enterd the US for the first time I was in the beginning of the last year of university so I stayed in US for 2 weeks and then came back to my country to finish this year and graduate in July 2018
1- can I go back to the US after 3 months for 10 days and do this one more time then after gradution move permanently to the US or this will put my green card at risk when I pass through CBP
2- my green card was mailed to my relative adress a few days after I left the US so can I still use my immigration visa to enter the country in the next times
Thank you for your patience and helping me and other people
September 22, 2017 at 13:59
September 22, 2017 at 22:07
Thank you Brit but sorry I got confused …. about answer 1 you mean it is ok to do that right ? ( I mean your answer yes is not for doing that may put the green card at risk )
September 22, 2017 at 22:33
September 22, 2017 at 23:53
Hello Brit, please I am the derivative, we made a spelling mistakes in our local postal address. We spelt XXX instead of YYY. Should we unlock?. My spouse is reluctant to unlock. We are interviewing in Accra Ghana. CN 19***
September 23, 2017 at 01:17
There is no delay for unlocking.
October 15, 2017 at 17:35
November 26, 2017 at 02:52
Firstly, a month ago my wife and I activated our green cards so we owe you a sincere Thank you for your expertise and guidance through this site. It really felt like it halved the load easily.
My wife stayed in the States with friends and I will return early in the new year.
I have couple of queries if you don’t mind. I have an account here in NZ with more than 10K in it at present. When we set up our US bank account I intend to shift an amount so that gets under the 10K. Will I be taxed on that account even though it would have only been around 6 or so weeks with that amount in it until it becomes less than 10K?Also is there any declaration you need to do if your money is tied up in a trust or for a example a term deposit? Do different rules apply for such things?
Also my wife’s green card has turned up at her address but not mine. We changed the address it was going to at our activation and we can’t help but think there may have been a mix up of sorts. Is it unusual for green cards to arrive at different times for families? Our ssn’s actually didn’t arrive either and my wife had to go in to an office and get another one issued.
November 26, 2017 at 14:56
You are not taxed on money you already have. You are taxed on income. You probably will have to declare offshore accounts however, in an FBAR form,Read about that.
No unusual for cards to arrive separately.
November 28, 2017 at 07:10
Ok thank you
July 12, 2018 at 16:36
Thank you for all the information you provide.
We activated our green cards in February this year and are planning a trip in December.
We would have been out of the country for 10 months since activation, is this okay, have read that as long as it’s less then 12 months?
Also would it be okay to come back for another 6 months before returning permanently and if not then will the same be fine with a re entry permit?
Lastly can we apply for re entry permit at embassy at home or does it have to be done in the US?
Thank you kindly
July 12, 2018 at 16:41
They may ask you questions about what you are doing to take residence – but that is not normally a problem.
I-131 must be filed in the USA – and you have to stay long enough for biometrics.
July 13, 2018 at 10:43
Thank you for the reply.
Just to confirm. With us wanting to come back for six month before moving. Would we require a re entry permit.
July 13, 2018 at 14:50
No. Read the FAQ
September 25, 2018 at 09:02
Now I have US green card, got because of DV lottery. I am back to my home country, will stay at Home country for 3-4 months to sale my car and property. I have already got my I-131 reentry permit also which i have applied 3 months back at US. My wife and son is still at US.My wife is not woking now because she is preparing for NCLEX( nursing licensing exam of US). My son ,5 yrs old is using a stamp food and medicare (since 2 months) at the time being which i am going to close once i will back to US after 3 months.
But i read lots to news these days regarding backdraw ( deny or ineligible for Green Card) of using public benefit for green card holder.
So what shall i do? do i need to go back to usa as soon as possible or need to withdraw public benefit of my son as soon as possible?
September 25, 2018 at 20:05
Part of the DV process was you had to show how you would avoid becoming a public charge – so fundamentally you should have had a plan that meant you were paying your way. The two programs you mention do not (as I understand it) mean you have broken any current rules, but that could change in the future. However, the current *proposed* changes will make it more difficult to get a Green Card if someone had previously used the public assistance programs. Since you already have your GC status (whether you have the plastic card or not), that might mean the proposed regulations don’t affect you – BUT it is clear where this is heading – the rules are tightening, so do what you can to avoid using these programs – *within reason*.
Just to clarify – I don’t think you need to drop your PC and rush back to the USA to sort this out tomorrow. These are proposed changes, and as I said I don’t *think* you have broken any rules yet.
September 26, 2018 at 14:08
Thank you Simon, I will close all the public benefits of my son on coming October and i will go back to US on coming January 2019 as my plan.
October 19, 2018 at 16:55
Being a green card holder, can travel freely in countries where a citizen can also travel without asking for that country’s visa??????
October 19, 2018 at 17:52
Not really. A GC is for entry into the USA. Other countries don’t have to recognize it. Canada is an exception to that rule.
October 21, 2018 at 03:45
So I have to wait until am a citizen to get access for all the countries. So when am I citizen of US , I wil have to apply for the passport??????
October 22, 2018 at 08:19
I was the winner of the DV 2018 and your forums help me about for process documents for interview and now I already be in USA in 1week. And now I have some concern as below and hope you can help me for these:
1: when I can get my SSN
2: I have paid the green card fee before I left my country 1 month, but do you know when I can receive it?
3: after I got my green card and I wanna back to my country, how long do I can stay in my country?
4: how long can I sponsor by parent?
Thanks for your kindly support
October 22, 2018 at 16:25
1. Usually 2 to 3 weeks after arrival
2. Up to 3 or 4 months after arrival.
3. Read the FAQ
4. Clarify your question.
October 22, 2018 at 16:40
3: if I just back to my own country within 5months I will not prefer to fill form I 131
4: I want to sponsor my parent to live USA what should I do?
October 22, 2018 at 17:04
3. I answered.
4. You have to wait until you are a citizen (5 years)
November 29, 2018 at 19:43
Hope you’re doing grand.
I’m in a bit of a panic so decided to reach out to you for some advice.
Long story short : we won the GC Lottery & had our activation trip in Nov 2015, then had 2nd thoughts about moving but did keep our GC alive with a yearly trip, now recently decided to go for it…but when rereading some stuff, it hit me : oh dear, we should’ve filed tax forms and FBAR 🙁
First the tax filing to the IRS : I did a lot of reading all over and it would seem there’s actually only a fine if you were to owe the IRS money (which we wouldn’t as under the threshold).
Question 1 : to the best of your knowledge, is that indeed the case ?
Questions 2 & 3 : best if we file tax forms for the past 3 years now so we’re ‘clean’ ? Can this still be done now ?
Now the FBAR : that one seemed more serious at first with major fines guaranteed but after diving on the net, seems here too we may be ‘ok’, also according to the IRS site itself : “The IRS will not impose a penalty for the failure to file the delinquent FBARs if you properly reported on your U.S. tax returns, and paid all tax on, the income from the foreign financial accounts reported on the delinquent FBARs, and you have not previously been contacted regarding an income tax examination or a request for delinquent returns for the years for which the delinquent FBARs are submitted.”
Question 4 : can we file the FBARs for the past 3 years now ?
Question 5 : or just start from now on ?
Question 6 : or would you say : you’re toast, mate, if you move to the US now, they’re gonna slap you with huge fines anyway ?
I know you’re not an accountant or tax advisor but just hoping you can provide some advice/tips/guidance.
Thanks in advance !
And sorry for the long mail !
November 30, 2018 at 03:11
As you said, I am not an accountant or tax advisor. I really can’t answer your questions any better than you can yourself.
December 16, 2018 at 19:58
Hi Britt, after arriving to US as a LPR (DV-2018) I started to look for a job, but I have been asked several times about my “work permit”; so, what should be my answer to this question? should I show my social securtity and my immigrant visa? or on the contrary is this “work permit” an additional document that I have to issue???
Thanks in advance…
December 16, 2018 at 20:17
You do not need a work permit. You are a Green Card Holder – so yes – you show that (GC or endorsed visa).
January 17, 2019 at 20:32
Im green card holder since 1 year,
I have traveled twice outside USA for five months each time.
I need to travel also twice this year then I will s5ay in USA.
So is my travel will negatively effect my green card and lose it in the airport or no.
January 18, 2019 at 01:15
Possibly. You are supposed to be resident, and you keep spending more time elsewhere, so yes there is a risk.
July 6, 2019 at 19:06
After my Activationtrip for 3 months last year , I have been outside of the states for 5 months and 25 days . Now I HAVE STAYED HERE for 39 days and have found an apartment with lease in NJ , have an internship after 2 months , the internship is for 6 months in NJ . So before this internship I HAVE TO GO back to Finland for 39 days to give my rental apartment away , get my other documents , collect my money , return the stuff Owe to Finland , and return back to join my wife who is residing back in USA . Is my trip going to cause trouble . I have bank account in USA, rental apartment , have applied for driving license . Is my second trip of 39 days ok within this first year of card activation .
July 6, 2019 at 21:43
July 15, 2019 at 08:43
Should I be ok coming back on my green card after 6 months spent in Europe? This was my second time leaving the US since I entered on my green card. My timeline looks like this:
July 2017 – August 2018 – US
August 2018 – left for the 1st time – 2 week trip to Europe
September 2018 – February 2019 – US
March 2019 – left to Europe and I’m still here – wanting to come back in August 2018.
Will it be a problem? You say I have up to 1 year to come back to the US. In the past I think I read on this website that the 1 year is only for when you leave for the first time, then you only have up to 6 months to come back to US.
(Here’s some more info on my situation: When I left I quit my job and renting a place, kind of wrapped things up in case I wouldn’t come back due to some health and family issues (nothing serious that could serve as a proof for why I was gone). I have my green card, my CA drivers license, US bank account still open and I’d be coming back to live with my boyfriend.)
Can you please clarify?
Thank you so much!
July 16, 2019 at 00:28
July 17, 2019 at 12:17
Hi Brit! Thank you for your response. What if I wanted to take the year away (not just 6 months)? I’d come back before the end of February 2020. (I left on the 28th of February 2019 and it was my second time away from the country after entering on my green card). Thank you!!
July 17, 2019 at 17:25
technically it’s still OK, although the risk of meeting a grumpy immigration official is always there. They question you and sometimes like to scare you, but rarely follow through with the threats they make to refer you to an immigration judge. Never ever take their offer to “surrender” your Green Card.
September 17, 2019 at 06:33
I have a question about absences once my visa is endorsed. I entered Jan 2019 and left about two weeks after, now I plan to enter in December 2019.
I still have some loose ends to tie up, and plan for a similarly short stay this time around but I don’t want to be absent for too long after that, so not to risk any issues.
How long can I be away at a time without having to face any issues, after this next visit? I plan to permanently move in the coming months after December 2019. Probably by March/April. And if required could make a visit or two in between, so not to be away longer than the 180 days (readmission period you mention).
Thank you in advance
September 17, 2019 at 20:22
Could you please check the FAQ as there is a detailed article on exactly this topic.
September 18, 2019 at 22:49
Thank you for the quick replies, as always!
First I need to make a donation, I cannot thank you enough! I found out by coincidence that I got the DV lottery while looking for files on my laptop and stumbled upon the confirmation and then checked the result! this was almost a year after the results had comes out (April 2019) and I have to say that without this website, I would not feel confident about all the documentation preparation prior to submission for the 260 form and interview.
Sincerely thank you! I’ll find the link for donation in the website as always, we tend to ask before looking ourselves. I am very guilty of that at time!!!!
I think the FAQ you’re referring to is the one called “Timeline of first entry and absences from USA”.
My follow up question is, if after the second entry (December 2019) to the US (activation trip was Jan 2019), I am away for periods shorter than 180 days prior to my permanent move (planned sometime in 2020). Is there a risk that officer at POE can think that I am abandoning my residency?
I just want to be very cautious with my timelines and ensure that I can make the move without issues while still being able to sort out things for my family (siblings+mother ) that I’m leaving behind before I make the permanent move.
Thank you! Sincerely from the heart!!!!!
September 18, 2019 at 23:03
Theoretically, as an LPR you are on “probation”. *Every* entry you make to the USA you are “asking” for permission to re-enter. Theoretically they (an Immigration officer) could raise concerns after ANY absence, but that is more likely to happen after 6 months absence than under 6 months absence. If the IO has concerns, before 1 year, any IO has to admit you to the USA, even though some have threatened to take someone’s GC away. The IO doesn’t have that power in reality and the most they can do is refer you to an immigration judge where you can argue your case. An immigration judge would rarely strip someone of the GC unless someone is clearly abusing the privilege.
After 1 year you are certainly at risk – so don’t do that UNLESS you have prior permission (re-entry permit).
May 26, 2020 at 06:59
Do you know how the 180 day period is taken into consideration with the corona pandemic?
I.e. travel restrictions from where I am not allowing me to get back to the US within 180 days since my last visit in Jan 2020. Are there are directions/instructions on that?
Please note that I have filed my taxes as well.
May 26, 2020 at 18:11
You didn’t read my reply, did you. 12 months is the deadline.
May 26, 2020 at 19:44
No I did, just wanted to double check considering any period above 180 days is more likely to cause a flag from IO, and that a period above 12 month is an absolute No-No.
To make sure whether they’d let my absence above the 180 day periods pass by without flagging considering the pandemic and travel restrictions.
I guess you can’t say that they’d absolutely not question it, but want to be on the safe side.
May 26, 2020 at 22:39
With or without the pandemic it’s not a problem. I’m losing options for how to say that more clearly.
September 30, 2019 at 04:07
Hi brit my son and i came in the states 3 months ago i want to tk him back home so that i can come back and settle first then go back for him.now my question is does the one yr absence out still refer to him hes two yrs old. Or how long can he stay from america n not bring issues?thank you
September 30, 2019 at 04:22
I year – just the same…
April 16, 2021 at 09:17
Hi Simon. I’m Cuban living in UK. Me, my husband and my two children (age 11 and 18 years old) applied for DV Lottery 2022. I’m concerned in regards to the education rights and opportunities my children could have in USA, if we arrive there. Especially my son who is currently at college and expect to go to university.
April 18, 2021 at 19:38
They would have the same education rights as any other resident.
June 1, 2021 at 14:17
I am trying to understand my US tax situation since I am a LPR. I do have some investments in Spain (funds and stock), and I am trying to figure out how to deal with all that and what would be the best options for me. I know you are not any expert, would you know where can I get some more info or do some more research?
I hope you are all well, thanks in advance.
June 3, 2021 at 04:56
I don’t want to try and give tax advice – I am not an accountant. What I will say is that I compared the tax laws UK v USA and based on that I simplified my tax position prior to coming to the USA and only left investments that were easily understandable between the two countries.
October 16, 2022 at 18:23
How do I go about changing my destination at the Port of Entry because I want to head to a different address apart from the one in the documents presented at the Embassy
October 23, 2022 at 15:13
No need to change anything. Just travel wherever you want. You might want to update the address shown in the DS260 because that is where the GC is delivered. If you want to change it – you must do that as you enter the USA at the POE.