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What are the rights and obligations of U.S. green card holder?

Rights of Permanent Residents

U.S. permanent resident status grants immigrants many rights and privileges. Green card holders may live and work anywhere in the United States, and they are fully protected under federal, state, and local law. Permanent residents are also free to travel abroad using a valid passport issued by their home country; however, in order to remain permanent residents, they must fulfill the physical presence requirement, which is discussed in the next section. In addition to these rights, permanent residents enjoy numerous other benefits, including access to world-class higher education and excellent health care. They also have the option to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Responsibilities of Permanent Residents

Along with the rights and privileges mentioned above, permanent residents are expected to fulfill certain responsibilities:

Permanent residents are required to pay all applicable state and federal income taxes. They must file income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), paying taxes on their gross worldwide income. Immigrants from countries with which the United States has tax treaties may be able to obtain credit for the payment of their foreign taxes.

Like all male U.S. citizens from age 18 to 25, male green card holders must register with Selective Service. Registration for Selective Service does not, in itself, entail service in the U.S. military, but it does mean that any male permanent residents from age 18 to 25 will be subject to the draft.

In addition to paying taxes and registering with Selective Service, permanent residents are expected to be of good moral character. In order to maintain permanent resident status, an immigrant must fulfill the physical presence requirement, which generally entails physically residing within the United States for six months or more in any given year. If a permanent resident spends more than one year outside of the United States, he or she must obtain a reentry permit or face losing permanent resident status.

If outside of the United States for two or more years after being issued a reentry permit, a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa is necessary. While outside the United States, permanent residents are still required to file U.S. income tax returns, and failure to do so may jeopardize their status. Permanent resident status will be considered abandoned if a green card holder moves to another country and no longer intends to reside in the United States.

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