Immigration matters can be complex. Andrew Thomas Law provides answers to FAQs on green cards. For more info, call us and schedule a consultation.
What Is a Permanent Resident Card?
Also known as a “green card” refers to the identification card given to you after you become a permanent resident of the US. A United States Green Card is also called an I-551 card or alien registration card by the government. It is usually valid for 10 years and renewable for an indefinite period of time.
What Are the Benefits of Permanent Resident Cards?
A United States Green Card allows you to freely live and work in the US. A green card holder can smoothly travel anywhere within the United States, as well as travel more easily to and from the U.S. than other immigrant visa holders.
Permanent residents are also eligible to receive federal benefits as well as entitled to in-state or resident tuition rates at certain colleges and universities. Individuals with permanent resident cards can also sponsor certain family members, so they can obtain family-based green cards.
However, it is important to remember that a green card is not a United States citizenship. Please see our page on Citizenship for more information about some important differences between these two categories.
What Is a Green Card Lottery?
The Diversity Visa Lottery or DV Lottery is the easiest way for most individuals to obtain a permanent resident card. Administered by the Department of State, it represents a way to increase immigrant diversity. Every year, the United States government randomly selects around 50,000 individuals who apply for a green card from all over the world every year.
Although the majority of these green card applicants live in their home countries at the time they enter a Green Card Lottery, some are in the U.S. but with a different immigration status.
There are many other ways to receive a green card and become a permanent resident. They include immigration through your family, marriage, work, investment, extraordinary abilities, adoption, asylum, religious work, etc. Please see our other pages under the “Green Cards” category for more information about becoming a permanent resident.
How to Apply for a Green Card?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS has separated the green card application process into several categories:
- immediate family members of U.S. citizens and green card holders can apply for a green card through sponsorship from their relatives.
- Employment-based Immigration – Professionals, workers with special skills, and immigrants with exceptional abilities can apply for a green card through sponsorship from a U.S. employer.
- Religious workers, minors who were victims of abuse, international broadcasters, Afghanistan and Iraq nationals, and employees of select international organizations are classified as special immigrants and usually eligible for green cards.
- Immigrants who would face physical harm or persecution in their home countries and apply for immigration under asylum if they have lived in the country for a year. Refugees who have lived in the country for a year are also eligible.
- A human trafficking victim with a T nonimmigrant visa is eligible for a green card, as are victims of crimes with U nonimmigrant visas.
- This measure was created to protect family members who relied on a relative’s citizenship to stay in the country. Spouses and children who are victims of abuse are eligible to apply for their own green cards.
- If you have lived in the U.S. since before Jan 1, 1972, and are a person of “good moral character” you are eligible to apply for a green card.
In addition to these methods, there are dozens of niche laws that allow people with special circumstances to apply for green cards. Our knowledgeable immigration attorneys can help you get started on your green card application and find the route that will be most convenient for you and your family.
What Are the Different Categories for Green Card Eligibility?
Green card eligibility is primarily categorized into family-based and employment-based preferences. Family-based green cards are available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Employment-based green cards are for individuals with exceptional or extraordinary ability, skilled workers, and certain special immigrants. There are also categories for investors and refugees/asylees.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?
The processing time for obtaining a green card varies based on the preference category and the applicant’s home country. For immediate relatives, the wait can be a few months, while some preference categories might take years due to annual limits. Factors like the applicant’s birth date, the filing date of the immigrant petition, and premium processing availability can influence the timeline.
What’s the Difference Between a Green Card and U.S. Citizenship?
A green card holder, or lawful permanent resident, has the right to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. They carry an Alien Registration Receipt Card as proof of their status. However, they cannot vote in federal elections and can lose their status under certain conditions. U.S. citizens have more rights, including voting, and their status is permanent, unaffected by long trips outside the U.S. or legal issues.
How Can a Family Member Sponsor You for a Green Card?
A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can sponsor certain family members for a green card. The sponsoring family member files an immigrant petition on behalf of the foreign relative. Immediate relatives, like spouses or unmarried children under 21, have priority. Other family members fall into family preference categories, which have longer waiting times due to annual caps.
Can a Green Card Expire?
If you have a Permanent Resident green card, it will expire after 10 years and require renewal. Additionally, if you lose your card, it is important to get it replaced as soon as possible. To renew or replace your green card as a Lawful Permanent Resident, you would fill out Form I-90.
If you get a green card as a Conditional Permanent Resident, however, you cannot renew your green card. You must first remove your conditions to being a permanent resident. Depending on how you obtained your card, you have two means to do this:
- Family-Based Immigration – Fill out Form I-751, called the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, during the 90-day period before the card expires
- Entrepreneur or Investor-Based Immigration – Fill out Form I-829, called the Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, during the 90-day period before the card expires
Can Your Green Card Be Revoked?
It is difficult to have a green card revoked, but it can happen. Your green card can be revoked based on several grounds, including fraud during the application process, abandonment of your residency status in the United States, or committing certain crimes listed by the INA, or Immigration and Nationality Act.
If you have any concerns about your green card being revoked, it is best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Call Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, today to speak with one of our immigration lawyers. We can explain and help you step-by-step through the entire green card process from start to finish.