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Avoiding problems in keeping permanent resident status

People in Arizona who are not U.S. citizens but have secured permanent resident status should keep their green cards in good standing. The two main ways that green card holders can jeopardize their permanent residencies are by violating the law or spending extended periods of time outside of the United States.

There is no official list of violations that will qualify a person for deportation, so it's a good idea for any permanent resident who is arrested or charged with a crime to consult an immigration lawyer. Criminal attorneys may not have a full understanding of the cooperation of criminal and immigration laws. Additionally, legal violations that jeopardize green card status need not be criminal. People have been deported for committing civil offenses that required no jail time.

If a permanent resident leaves the U.S. intending to make his or her home in another country, he or she loses permanent resident status. Because the determination is based on the intent of the green card holder, there are no bright line rules. However, it's generally a good idea to avoid leaving the U.S. for more than one year at a time. For individuals who plan to be outside the U.S. for more than a year, applying for a reentry permit might make the process easier.

Applying for citizenship is seen as a clear indication in many cases of the person's intent to live permanently in the U.S. In a case where an immigrant wants to pursue a green card or citizenship, a lawyer might be able to help. A lawyer with experience in U.S. immigration law could draft and file documents to begin or further the immigration process.

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