If you are looking forward to permanently immigrating and becoming a citizen of the United States of America.Then you should bear in mind that all you need is a US green card. A green card grants you the status of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) in the United States of America. Which is the final step before the ultimate goal of citizenship.
The Green Card unlocks the door to the United States for thousands of USA fans every year. It allows the lucky Green Card winners permanent residence as well as an unlimited work permit for the US. However, the USA raffles 55,000 of the desirable US immigrant visas in the Green Card Lottery every year.
However, continue reading this article as we are about to provide you with detailed information about the United States green cards, application process, rights and responsibilities of a green card holder, and any other important information pertaining to everything you need to know about a US green card.
What is a Green Card?
A green card, known officially as a permanent resident card, is an identity document that shows that a person has permanent residency in the United States. Moreover, the green card holders are formally known as Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR).
However, a green card holder or permanent resident is typically granted the authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will grant the immigrant a green card as proof of permanent resident status.
Moreover, just as we mentioned earlier in this article, the green card status (permanent residence) is the step before gaining US citizenship. Holders are entitled to apply for US citizenship after meeting the eligibility requirements for the application.
The Green Card is the golden ticket to the ride called the American Dream Express. All men are created equal and you can believe this noble notion when you get to hold your very own Green Card. You are recognized by the US government as an individual who has the same rights as those a natural-born citizen. This is definitely good news! You can have your American dream and create a new life in this land of opportunities.
History of the Green Card
The story of the Green Card started in 1940. People without US citizenship had to officially register when entering the United States for the first time.
The idea of a free and abundant life in the United States was as prevalent in the past as it is now. It was even evident in the culture of many non-US citizens who chose to live in the country. In the eighties, it was part of the people’s consciousness in different fields including film and music. Songs like Illegal Alien and Englishman in New York gaining popularity are proof of that. The former song was created in 1987 by an English rock group called Genesis and the latter was released by Sting, a famous English artist, in 1988.
It is interesting to know that it was only in 1940 when the US government required the first form of registration for non-US citizens. When it was introduced, it was in the form of a receipt card called Form AR-3. After World War II, the first version of the Green Card emerged and it was official proof that an individual can work and live in the United States for an indefinite period of time. Variations of the Green Card were created according to the prevailing needs of the time in the years 1951, 1977, 1989, and 1997.
The 2010 version is what we now recognize as the modern Green Card. It is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to eligible applicants. Widely known around the world, thousands of people every year go through a rigid process just to get it.
Benefits of Having a Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card) Status
The US Green Card is one of the most desired immigrant visas in the world for good reason. Holders of the Permanent Resident Card enjoy a variety of benefits. Such as unlimited entry to the USA (no need for a US visa). Living in any US state without restrictions.
However, getting your own Green Card is similar to winning a lottery. It evokes the same feelings of triumph and joy. After waiting a long time betting on your favorite numbers, you finally won the grand prize. For many people, getting a Green Card is the fulfillment of a dream especially if they have tried and failed several times. In short, for many migrants, getting to the point of gaining permanent residence in their newly adopted country is a key milestone.
Moreover, thousands of workers from around the world and within the US are eager to be recognized as legal citizens. The US is a great country to live in because it cares for its people in the form of scholarship grants, innumerable job opportunities, modern health care facilities, full social security benefits, and more significantly, a chance for a better and more successful life. Furthermore, green card holders are entitled to the right to live, work, and study permanently in the United States. However, here are the advantages of getting a green card in the US:
1. Increase Opportunity for Further Education:
However, owning a green card is equivalent to a chance or two of joining a university degree and graduate program. Even getting to prestigious schools in the country is no longer a distant dream because you will be accepted based on merit just like any other US citizen.
Moreover, so many doors will open for you including the ones that will allow you to pursue further studies in promising educational programs. You can study modern engineering, medicine, information technology, etc. Being a graduate of a good university can be the best prerequisite for starting a career in any of the booming industries in the US. In addition, you’ll have the privilege of meeting brilliant minds in your university who may well be your colleagues, business partners, or corporate connections in the future.
2. Build a Career and Succeed:
Most people travel to the US to work for the best companies in the world and gain valuable experience. Others have their minds set on building a lucrative career in the fields of architecture, engineering, technology, design, and the hospitality industry. Artists and musicians alike covet the fame and the fortune that is characteristic of the opportunities available in this corner of the globe. Besides, the fact that Hollywood is located on US soil is a manifestation of these desires.
Moreover, applying for work without a Green Card is not going to take you where you want to go. If you can obtain the card, you will be on equal footing with any of the talented, smart, and hardworking citizens of this country in terms of getting hired. Since the card acts as legal proof of your citizenship and your permission to gain employment, you will have a good chance of landing your dream job. Meanwhile, your Green Card coupled with your wit and self-confidence is the leverage you need to succeed.
3. Freedom to Take the Entrepreneurial Path:
Nowadays, so many people want to be entrepreneurs and this is especially true in the United States. When you think of the diverse target market in the country, starting a business is a great option. If you are from another country and you want to open a restaurant for your local cuisine, you can expect hundreds of curious and eager customers.
However, the food industry is thriving and fashion, design, and music are not far behind either. The dynamic and varied taste of the people is so irresistible a factor not to take advantage of for your entrepreneurial journey. You can’t start a business without having the necessary legal documents and here is where the need for the Green Card comes in.
Therefore, your proof of identification as well as your legal right to create a viable business opportunity for yourself lies in owning an authentic Green Card. Get your hopes up and know that you will eventually obtain this elusive card. You can rely on our help in this area. After that, you will see the realization of your grand business ideas.
4. Find a Home and Create a New Life:
The variety of real estate properties in the United States is incredible. You can choose to live near the coast, in the big city, or in a suburban town. Ideally, as you create a new life, you can buy a house when you relocate here. If finances will not permit that at this time, you can rent a property first.
Besides, landlords and landladies would generally ask their tenants to provide proof of identity. If you are a foreigner, you are expected to produce a Green Card. They will be more at ease if you show it to them because it simply means that you have legal permission from the US government to reside here. However, buying property is a similar challenge although it is stricter because you have to submit and show more legal documents.
A simple Green Card affords you all of these rights and privileges. Just believe that they are yours for the taking if you respect the rules of this country and get the golden ticket soon. We are about to show you how it’s done. You can trust that you are not alone in this process. We are here to lend a hand.
Limitations for the US Green Card Holders
Moreover, the Green Card may also bring some disadvantages. Which totally depends on one’s life situation and personal wishes. However, here are the limitations or restrictions for US Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) or Green Card holders:
- The Permanent Resident Card does not include the voting right in Federal, State, and most local elections.
- If the Green Card holder stays outside the US for too long, their Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) rights will expire (max. 1 year or 2 years upon application).
- Fingerprints and photos will still be taken every time a Green Card holder enters the United States.
- LPRs are considered taxable in the USA, and therefore must file a tax return and declare their worldwide income. However, the Double taxation agreements prevent them from overpaying in most cases.
How to Apply for Permanent Residence
However, there are several ways one can become a permanent residence or a green cardholder. The three most common ways to obtain one are as follows:
- To take on a job in the USA
- To reunite with family members in the USA
- By winning the Green Card Lottery
Generally, the steps you must take to apply for a Green Card will vary depending on your individual situation. Depending on the category, different Green Card requirements must be met.
Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the United States. Other individuals may become permanent residents through refugee or asylee status or other humanitarian programs. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself. Therefore, you will need to find the eligibility category that fits your immigration situation, research how to apply, and learn whether your family members can also apply with you.
Moreover, any Green Card application must be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) online. As soon as the immigration authorities have reviewed and approved the application. A consular processing (or status adjustment when applying from inside the USA) follows.
Green Card Eligibility Categories
However, to apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed below. You can click on the link provided below when you find the category that may fit your situation to get information on eligibility requirements, how to apply, and whether your family members can also apply with you.
- Family sponsorship (Green card through family)
- Special immigrant
- Refugee or Asylee status
- Human trafficking and crime victims
- Victims of abuse
- Green card through other categories
- Through registry
Moreover, you can click here to view more details about each category.
Green Card Application Process
Furthermore, each green card category will have specific steps and procedures to follow. Below is the general process you will need to follow while applying for a permanent residence status. However, before you start the application process, there are two essential questions you should answer first. They are as follows:
1. Are you eligible to apply?
However, the US immigration laws provide a variety of ways for immigrants to apply for a green card. Therefore, the eligibility requirements may also vary depending on the immigrant category you fall under. You can use the link we’ve provided above to explore the different categories and their specific requirements.
When you are being sponsored for a green card:
Moreover, most people who meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a green card will need to complete at least two forms. The two forms include an immigrant petition and a green card application (Form I-485).
However, someone else usually must file the petition for you (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you). Although you may be eligible to apply or file for yourself in some cases. Meanwhile, you can click here to view all immigration forms, then you can refer to your eligibility category to find out if you need a petition.
2. Are you inside or outside the United States?
Secondly, you will need to determine which process to use, if you are eligible to apply for a Green Card. Here are the general processes and procedures to help you apply either while in the United States (known as “adjustment of status”) or while outside the United States (known as “consular processing”).
1. Adjustment of Status: Adjusting your status to a permanent resident is the process immigrants use to get a Green Card while in the United States.
2. Consular Processing: Consular processing is the method immigrants use to get their Green Card when outside the United States or when ineligible to adjust status in the United States.
3. General application process
Meanwhile, the steps you must take to apply for a Green Card will vary depending on your individual situation. However, here is the general application process that most applicants will go through:
- Someone usually must file an immigrant petition for you (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you). In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.
- After USCIS approves the immigrant petition, and there is a visa available in your category. You file either a Green Card application with USCIS or a visa application with the U.S. Department of State.
- Then, you go to a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photos, and a signature.
- After that, you go to an interview.
- Finally, you receive a decision on your application.
You May Also Like:
- How to Get Irish Citizenship Through Naturalization
- How to Obtain Netherlands Permanent Residence
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD) – Qualification Requirements and Tips
- Immigrant Visas – Information About Sponsoring a Loved one
- USA Diversity Visa Lottery Info – Qualification Tips and Requirements
How Much Does a Green Card Cost?
The application for a Green Card involves different fees. However, this depends on the category and individual situation. But here are the estimated costs that applicants should be prepared for:
Standard processing fee:
$325 – $345
USCIS immigrant fee:
$400 – $500
Moreover, unlike the Green Card Lottery, there are additional costs that comes with the family-based and employment-based Green Card processes. However, the following fees below are to be paid on top of the basic Green Card costs:
Family-Based Green Cards
Alien relative petition:
Affidavit of support:
Employment-Based Green Cards
Petition for alien workers:
Premium processing (to avoid waiting times):
Attorney costs for a labor certification (proves the need to hire a foreigner):
vary between $3,000 – $4,000
In conclusion, a permanent resident must keep in mind that staying outside the US for a long and uninterrupted period of time without authorization might lead to losing the permanent residence rights. Staying outside the US for less than six months should not be a problem. But anyone who stays away for six to twelve months must be prepared for questions by the border officials when re-entering the country.
While, permanent residents who stay outside the USA for more than 12 months must obtain a Re-Entry Permit in advance using Form I-131. However, with this permit, the LPR can stay outside the USA for up to two years. The permit can also be granted a second time with sufficient justification.
Moreover, you can also renew your permanent residence status if your current card expired or will expire in the next six months. You can replace it, in case of theft or loss. Furthermore, there’s also the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) lottery program. Which allows for up to 55,000 immigrant visas to be awarded each year.
However, foreign nationals of countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. can participate in a random drawing for the potential of getting an immigrant visa. You can read more about the Diversity Visa Lottery program in the US immigration category of our articles.