Green Cards

Applying for Permanent Residency

If you wish to live and work permanently in the United States, you will need to obtain a green card. Many people seeking permanent residency must be sponsored by a family member or employer, but there may be other ways to obtain a green card. Once you receive your green card, you will be able to live in the U.S. on a permanent basis.

There are a number of different topics to understand in relation to green cards and permanent residency. In addition to applying and being approved in the first place, you will need to renew your green card on a regular basis to ensure it does not expire. You may also face issues related to limited rights as a permanent resident (such as deportation for certain criminal violations) or may be interested in becoming a U.S. citizen. These are all topics that we will try to cover in our Immigration Information Center. You can also use our directory to connect with an immigration attorney who can answer your specific questions and address your concerns.

What is a green card?
A green card is an immigrant visa that allows a non-citizen to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Green card is an informal term used to describe a United States Permanent Resident Card. These identification cards were green in color from 1946 to 1964 and reverted back to green in May of 2010. A green card identifies its holder is a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States, meaning the holder can legally live and work in the U.S.

Green Card Eligibility
There are four primary qualifications that must be met in order for a person to be eligible to apply for a green card (these may vary depending on the unique circumstances):

· The applicant must be eligible for one of the immigrant categories as established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). For example, one category is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.

· The applicant must have a qualifying immigrant petition filed and approved (either a self petition or a petition filed by a family member or employer).

· The applicant must be eligible for admission to the U.S. (certain issues of a security, criminal or health-related nature may result in inadmissibility).

· There must be an immigrant visa available (in some cases, only a limited number of visas are issued every year, so availability may be limited).

The Green Card Process
A person who wishes to become a permanent resident of the U.S. may apply for a green card through family, through employment or through refugee or asylee status. The Diversity Lottery may provide another avenue for a person to obtain a green card. The process will vary depending on the specific circumstances at hand. For example, a non-citizen who is already living in the U.S. may be able to apply for an adjustment of status. A family member or employer may petition on an immediate relative or employee's behalf, enabling them to file an application for a green card. An applicant may file a petition on their own behalf to seek permanent residency.

Diversity Lottery
Every year, 50,000 visas are available through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or Diversity Lottery. These are drawn randomly from a selection of entries that are from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. The Department of State holds a lottery every year to determine who will get the available visas. There are still eligibility requirements that must be met if you are to receive a green card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.

Rights of Permanent Residents
A permanent resident has specific rights and responsibilities. These rights may include the right to live permanently in the U.S. and to seek work of your choosing. You will also have the right to be protected by all the laws of the United States and the state and jurisdiction in which you reside. To maintain permanent residency, you must comply with all the laws of the U.S. and the state and jurisdiction in which you reside. You must file income tax returns and report your income to the proper authorities, and are expected to support the democratic form of government. If you are a male and are aged from 18 through 25 you are also required to register with the Selective Service (the agency responsible for the military draft).

Interested in applying for a green card? Find an immigration attorneytoday.