Permanent Resident Services
Once an individual has entered the U.S. on an immigrant visa, he/she becomes a permanent resident. A permanent resident card (also called a "green card" or "I-551") will be issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and mailed to the individual's U.S. address. The card serves as a valid identification document and proof that the individual is eligible to live and work in the U.S. Permanent residents should always carry their green cards when traveling outside the U.S.
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) have most of the rights of American Citizens:
- LPRs may live permanently in the United States provided they do not commit any actions that would make them removable (deportable) under the immigration law.
- LPRs may be employed in the United States.
- LPRs are protected by all of the laws of the United States, the state of residence and local jurisdictions.
Naturalization: Many Permanent Residents of the United States have the ultimate goal of becoming American citizens. Once an LPR completes the necessary residence and physical presence requirements (which vary in certain cases), he/she can file an application for naturalization. See the USCIS <http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis> for additional details.
Green cards can only be issued or replaced in the United States and can never be obtained overseas.
Permanent Resident Status
Permanent residents who depart and remain outside the U.S. for more than 365 contiguous days risk losing their status and may need to undergo the entire petition and immigrant visa process anew if they wish to re-enter the U.S. If you are a permanent resident and you plan to stay outside the U.S. for a prolonged period of time, you may want to apply for a re-entry permit from USCIS. This document will extend the time you are permitted to stay outside the U.S. Please note that permanent residents who fail to file income tax returns while living outside the U.S. or who declare themselves as "non-immigrants" on tax returns may lose their status.
Expired/Expiring Green Card
If your I-551 card (also known as a greencard) has expired or will expire within the next six months, you may be able to renew it by filing Form I-90 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Please contact the USCIS District Office in Rome (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, American Embassy, Via Sallustiana 49, 00187 Rome, Italy, email: USCIS.Rome@dhs.gov, phone: +39-06-4674-2190, and fax: +39-06-4674-2920.)
If you plan to stay outside of the U.S. for more than one year, a re-entry permit is needed for readmission. You must be physically present in the U.S. when you file the application (Form I-131). (Please note – you cannot file this form if you are outside the U.S.) When you file the form, you can either opt to have the re-entry permit sent to your address in the U.S. or you may opt to have the re-entry permit sent to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad for pickup. If you have it sent to the Embassy, we will notify you when the permit has been received in our office and you will need to appear at the Embassy (in person) to collect the document. Please see the USCIS for further details.
Lost or Stolen Green Cards
Permanent resident cards (commonly known as "green cards") can only be issued or replaced in the United States and can never be obtained overseas. A green card is required for re-entry into the United States as a permanent resident. If you left your green card in the U.S., you should arrange to have it sent to you by a secure courier service. If your green card has been lost or stolen, you may be able to obtain a "boarding foil" authorizing an airline to carry you to the United States without penalty.
Applying for a Boarding Foil
Individuals seeking a boarding foil should contact us. Scanned copies of the following documentation should be included in the email:
- Evidence of your identity (passport, photo ID, etc.)
- Your airplane tickets (the one showing your departure date from the U.S.)
- Evidence of your U.S. legal resident status (e.g. passport showing admission to the United States as an immigrant)
- Evidence that you were in the United States within the last 12 months
- Copy of your report to the police of the card's loss/theft or a detailed written explanation as to why you do not have your card
Note: Boarding foils can require several weeks to process. Please do not make any travel arrangements until you are notified by the Immigrant Visa Unit.
Abandoning Permanent Resident Status
Lawful permanent resident (LPR) who no longer intend to reside in the U.S. may wish to abandon their permanent resident status. They can do so by filing Form I-407 (Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status) with the Embassy – this form can be downloaded from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website. Please note that former LPRs will usually be asked to execute this document and surrender their I-551 (green card) before being issued a non-immigrant visa. Individuals seeking to abandon their permanent resident status should contact us to request an appointment with the Immigrant Visa Unit. Once you have officially abandoned permanent resident status, you may want to carry a copy of the I-407 the next time you enter the United States.
You may be a conditional resident if you immigrated to the United States as a spouse of a U.S. citizen before the second anniversary of your marriage. If you are a conditional resident and you have children, they too may be considered conditional residents. Conditional residents must file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) within the 90-day period immediately preceding the second anniversary of the date you were granted conditional permanent resident status. This date is usually the expiration date of your Permanent Resident Card. You can download the I-751 form from the USCIS website. Please note that you will need send the form directly to the USCIS office indicated on the form along with a U.S. dollar money order for filing fee.
The form must be filed with USCIS. The Embassy cannot accept these applications.
Returning Resident Visas
Permanent residents who live outside the U.S. for more than 12 months may forfeit their resident status. Individuals holding USCIS re-entry permits may remain outside of the United States up to 24 months - for details on applying for a permit please visit the USCIS website . A former permanent resident who has lost his/her status and desires to return to the United States has two options:
- Option 1: A U.S. relative (spouse, parent, child or sibling) or U.S. employer may file an immigrant petition on behalf of the individual. Please see the Immigrant Visa portion of the Embassy’s website for details.
- Option 2: The individual may apply for returning resident status. An application for returning resident status requires evidence of the applicant's continuing, unbroken ties to the United States, evidence that the stay outside the United States was truly beyond the applicant's control and evidence that the intent of the applicant was always to return to the United States.
To apply for a returning resident status, the applicant must pay the application fee of USD $180 per person, complete an application form, and appear at the Embassy for an interview. The fee is non-refundable. The applicant must provide evidence of his/her continuing ties to the U.S. Having U.S. relatives, attending school overseas or stating the intent to return is generally insufficient. The applicant must also present evidence that the protracted stay abroad was beyond his/her control. The applicant will be interviewed and supporting documents will be reviewed. The applicant will be notified one to two weeks after the interview as to whether the application was granted or refused.
If the applicant is judged to qualify for returning resident status, he/she must then complete the entire immigrant visa process (including paying the immigrant visa fees of another USD $205, obtaining a medical exam, submitting all necessary police clearances and civil documents, and appearing for an immigrant visa interview.) If the applicant is judged not to qualify for returning resident status, he/she may opt to have an American citizen or LPR relative file a new immigrant visa petition on his/her behalf.
Individuals interested in applying for returning resident status should contact us paperwork.
Note: Individuals contemplating whether to submit an application for returning resident status should carefully evaluate whether their circumstances meet the criteria outlined above. The application fee is non-refundable and the evaluation process is quite rigorous. It is also worthy to consider that approval of returning resident status does not guarantee issuance of a visa.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Replacing Green Cards
Q. My Legal Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) is about to expire. Can I file Form I-90 at the Embassy?
A. No. An permanent resident card (Green Card) can only be re-issued by filing Form I-90 in the United States. It cannot be filed at the Embassy.
Q. My Green Card expired. I have been out of the United States for less than 12 months. Do I need a transportation letter?
A. If your permanent resident Green Card has expired, please contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services District Office in Rome to inquire about the obtaining the proper documentation to return to the U.S. (American Embassy, Via Sallustiana 49, 00187 Rome, Italy, email: USCIS.Rome@dhs.gov, phone: +39-06-4674-2190, and fax: +39-06-4674-2920.)
Q. I applied for a Green Card but I have not received it. What should I do?
A. Please locate the receipt number on your I-797 Notice of Approval (the notice you received that your USCIS petition was approved.) You should then contact the USCIS case status service online or call the National Customer Service Center.
Lost/Forgotten Green Cards
Q. I lost my Green Card. What should I do?
A. Please contact us to schedule an appointment to apply for an LPR transportation letter.
Q. I forgot my Green Card in the United States. What should I do?
A. You should have someone send it from the United States by a secure courier service.
Q. I need to be fingerprinted for a USCIS service such as adjustment of status, re-entry permit or a naturalization application. Does the Embassy offer fingerprinting services?
A. Yes, in many cases. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.
Maintaining Permanent Resident Status
Q. I expect to be outside of the United States for more than 12 months. What should I do?
A. If you plan to be outside of the United States for more than 12 months, you should apply for a re-entry permit before leaving the United States. You will be required to file Form I-131, Application for a Travel Document/Re-entry Permit, with USCIS before you depart the U.S. A re-entry permit is normally valid for up to 2 years. You will be required to show the re-entry permit at the port of entry when you enter the United States.
Q. I did not apply for a re-entry permit before leaving the United States and it has been more than one year since I left the U.S. What should I do?
A. If you did not apply for a re-entry permit before leaving the United States and have been overseas for more than 12 months, it is possible that your permanent resident status has lapsed. You may need to undergo the entire immigrant visa process anew. Please see the webpage of Returning Residents.
Q. Can I file for a re-entry permit with the Embassy?
A. Re-entry permit applications (Form I-131) can only be filed in the United States with USCIS. They cannot be filed at the Embassy.
Change of Address
Q. I entered the United States on an immigrant visa. My address changed before I received my Green Card. What should I do?
A. Please use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to update your information (click here).