Obtaining and Keeping Your Green Card Dos & Don'ts
The process of obtaining a green card can be time consuming and complicated. In almost all cases, it will take a supreme amount of patience. Not all foreign individuals are eligible to work in the United States, but if you are, following this list will better protect your green card status.
Do follow the instructions on your Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Services (BCIS) forms exactly. If the BCIS (which took over responsibility for the issuance of green cards from the former INS) didn't think the information was important, it would not have included it on the form. Failure to provide all of the information requested could result in significant processing delays.
Do attach all the documents called for in the forms and provide appropriate translations where necessary. In most cases, the BCIS will not process the forms if documents are missing.
Do follow the BCIS photograph instructions. Your local BCIS office may even have an onsite photographer. It is worth inquiring.
Do call your local BCIS office, or visit the office personally if you have questions. You can also access the BCIS website at www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.
Do request an interpreter if you have trouble understanding English. Many INS offices have interpreters on hand. To be safe, bring your own interpreter.
Do hire an immigration attorney if you have been previously denied entry to the United States, deported, convicted of a crime, made misrepresentations to the BCIS (or the former INS), overstayed a visa, or are currently in the country illegally.
Do tell your attorney about any previously denied entries to the United States, deportations, convictions, misrepresentations made to the BCIS (or the former INS), unauthorized employment, or overstayed visas. Your attorney will be able to determine whether any of these problems can be remedied or whether they are significant relative to your current immigration goals. If your failure to reveal potential immigration problems leads to your filing immigration forms with false information, you could be deported and barred from returning to the United States.
Do consult an attorney if you are contemplating accepting public benefits such as welfare or AFDC. If the BCIS has reason to believe that you have become a “public charge,” you could lose your green card.
Don't commit any crimes. Your green card will not keep you from being deported.
Don't engage in politically subversive activities.
Don't smuggle other foreign nationals into the United States.
Don't charge others for legal advise. Even though your experience of obtaining a green card may have made you an expert, it is not legal to practice law without a license.
Don't create the impression that you are not living in the United States once you have obtained your green card. If you leave the United States for too long, you may lose your green card.
Don't lie on any BCIS form. If you feel you have something to lie about, contact an attorney.
Don't lie to BCIS officers. If you feel you have something to lie about, contact an attorney.
Don't leave parts of your forms blank, or assume that a part of the form is unimportant. If the information really does not apply to you, insert “N/A” or “none.” For example, if you are not married, you should put an “N/A” on the portions of the forms asking for spousal information. But if the form asks for your addresses for the past five years, you must supply complete addresses with no time periods unaccounted for.
Don't open the envelope with your medical exam results in it. If you want to see the results of your exam, most physicians will supply you with a copy.