How do you get a green card – and can you give one up? All your questions answered

How do you get a green card?

There are several ways to obtain a green card. You can apply on the basis of US-based employment, as a result of asylum status, or if you have an immediate relative who is a US citizen.

If you are applying for a green card through employment, you must show you have “extraordinary ability” in your field of work.

Another common route to apply for a green card is as an immigrant investor. Under that criteria, you must invest at least $1 million (£767,000) – or less, in specific circumstances – in a business that will benefit the US economy and employ at least 10 people full-time.

What benefit does a green card give you?

It gives you the ability to freely live and work in the US without the attached restrictions to visa holders. Some green cards are valid for two years, whilst others expire after 10 years.

What tax do you have to pay?

The answer depends on where you are living and the income that you have. But as a permanent resident, you are required to file a US tax return every year.

However, the US Internal Revenue Service says that you are a resident for federal tax purposes if you are a lawful permanent resident of the US at any time during the calendar year (ie meet the criteria for a green card).

It states: “You are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, at any time, if you have been given the privilege, according to the immigration laws, of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant. You generally have this status if… you have a ‘green card’.”

What happens if you leave the US or move to a different country?

Immigration lawyers told The Telegraph that green card holders are required to inform the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of any change of address, inside or outside the US, within 10 days.

Moreover, before a green card holder leaves the US for an extended period, they are required to file an application called a re-entry permit.

Green card holders should inform the USCIS of the circumstances of their departure and inform the government when they intend to return.

Can you use a green card for travel if you no longer live in the US?

Prof Alberto Benitez, an immigration lawyer at George Washington University, said: “[Rishi Sunak] should not have a green card unless he’s living legally and permanently in the United States. That’s the name of the card. That’s the point. That’s what it exists for.

“A green card is not a travel document. It can be used as a travel document, but that’s not what it’s for. It is proof that the holder is a legal permanent resident of the United States.”

Prof Benitez said that travelers to the US who use a green card to enter the country whilst no longer meeting its criteria could end up having their green card revoked.

How do you give up your green card?

Prof Benitez said: “You send it back to USCIS and say ‘I don’t want this any more’. You can do it, in this case, from the UK – you can go to a US consulate in the UK and hand in your green card.”

Can you be an MP and have a green card?

Yes, because Parliament has never made a rule that says you have to live in your constituency, or even the UK, as long as you are a UK national.

Why did Rishi Sunak give up his green card?

Mr Sunak said he gave up his green card after consulting with the US authorities when he visited the country for the first time as Chancellor. US officials would have told him that it was inappropriate to travel on US documentation as a UK government minister.

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