“Green Card” is the commonly used term for the United States Permanent Resident Card. Having a Green Card means you can legally live and work in the United States, permanently.
Green Card holders are eligible for certain government benefits and protections, such as the ability to travel in and out of the U.S. without the need for a visa, no need for a work permit, better employment opportunities, and lower higher-education costs than international students.
There is no single pathway to becoming a Green Card holder. Your options may include but are not limited to: a family-based sponsorship, getting a Green Card through marriage, an employment-based sponsorship, adjusting your status after being granted asylum, or succeeding on the Diversity Visa Lottery.
Eventually, legal permanent residents can become U.S. citizens. This would be done through the Naturalization process. The applicant must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen.
The processing times for family-based visas can range from several months to several years. This is why it is so important to make sure all paperwork is carefully completed and supported by the requested documentation.
Usually, an employer or family member sponsors your application and files a petition on your behalf to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In some cases you will be able to file a self-petition, depending on the eligibility requirements.
USCIS will review your case and decide whether your petition is approved. If it is, they will check that there is a visa available in your category and let you know when you can submit your Green Card petition.
You will be required to attend a biometrics appointment where they will take your fingerprints, photo, and signature.
You will attend an interview where immigration authorities will ask you questions regarding your case and submitted documentation.
You’ll get the decision and find out if you’ve become a U.S. permanent resident!
Note: You can apply for a Green Card in the United States or from abroad. Most applicants will be asked for a medical examination, affidavit of support, and proof that they will not become a public charge.
The eligibility categories for a Green Card include employment-based, family-based, special immigrant, asylum or refugee status, and the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (a.k.a.the Green Card lottery).
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or Green Card lottery, is a program that allows individuals from selected countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for a Green Card. Every year the U.S. allocates a number of available Green Cards to be randomly offered to eligible participants.
The definitive list of evidence required depends on the eligibility category and anything that immigration authorities may consider relevant to your case. However, it usually includes birth certificates, marriage certificates, employment records, medical records, and proof of financial support.
If your Green Card application is denied, you may have the option to appeal the decision. Nevertheless, you must keep in mind the appealing options depend on the reason for the denial and other factors.