New Laws for Green Card Holders in 2020


Achieving permanent resident status isn’t easy. It can be tempting to relax once you finally achieve the coveted green card.

Still, it’s important to remember that obtaining a green card isn’t the same thing as securing citizenship. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the new laws taking effect in 2020.

Failing to adhere to these laws can result in deportation.

Tax Improprieties

You should always declare all of your income. Failing to declare income is a crime for US Citizens too, but for green card holders this failure carries the additional threat of deportation, as well. 

Selective Service Registration

If you are a male green card holder between the ages of 18 and 25 you must register for the selective service system (aka, the “draft.”) The chances you’ll be drafted are relatively low, but the chances you’ll be deported for failing to sign up are quite high.

Using Public Benefits

According to a new Department of Justice draft regulation, using or applying for food stamps, medicaid, TANF, or for any other welfare program within five years of becoming a permanent resident can threaten your status and make you eligible for deportation. The government will be trying to determine if your condition or reason for seeking help was a problem before you entered the country. 

The most common failure would be the failure to disclose a health condition which could keep you from earning an income. 

The plan has not gone into effect yet: it has to go through a public comment period, and  the Attorney General will have to sign off on it. Given the hostility the current administration has towards those who use public benefits it’s likely the rule will go into effect, which may make it a good idea to steer clear of public benefits. 

Of course, here in Pennsylvania many green card holders aren’t eligible for benefits in the first place. Still, it’s a good issue to keep an eye on.

Prolonged Visits to Other Countries

Leaving the country can put your green card status at risk. Stay too long, and your green card could be treated as an “abandoned” card.

USCIS doesn’t give specific lengths of time. Instead, they evaluate the reason for your trip, how long you intend to be absent, other circumstances, and events which may prolong your absence. 

If you’re going to go, it’s a good idea to obtain a re-entry permit from USCIS prior to leaving the country. If you fail to do that you can also obtain an SB-1 returning resident visa from a US Consulate.


Got an upcoming trip? Not sure whether you can apply for benefits? 

Contact Hykel Law today so you can protect your permanent resident status. 

See also:

How to Get a Green Card for Your Fiancee

What Are the Grounds for Cancellation of Removal?

Avoid These 3 Green Card Sponsorship Mistakes

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Employment & Investment Visas

Although it often comes with controversy, immigration into the United States has always played a major role in the strength of its economy. Perhaps no one understands this more than the residents of Philadelphia, where the Liberty Bell still welcomes foreigners to one of the richest historical communities of our country.


Family Visas

Not knowing or understanding the system and laws of the U.S. can be a disadvantage for many foreign immigrants who wish to obtain permanent residency in the United States, either for themselves or for their loved ones. Hykel Law’s Family-Based Immigration Services can lead you through the complicated process to achieve either temporary or permanent residency, depending on your situation.


Deportation Defense

Are you afraid of deportation? If you are a foreign national involved in the beginning stages of removal proceedings, the deportation attorney at Hykel Law in Philadelphia can help prevent this unfortunate situation. We can evaluate your immigration case and find the best strategy to defend you from removal proceedings to help you stay in the United States.

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