A green card, officially known as a permanent resident card is a permit allowing a foreign national to reside and work permanently in the United States. It serves as a proof that its bearer has officially been granted immigration benefits which includes permission to reside and work in the U.S. The green card is valid for 10 years for permanent residents; people residing in the country, citizens, and 2 years for conditional permanent residents.
Getting a green card in America is as important as the fuel that moves your car; it is the first step toward US citizenship. It defines your freedom of movement, walking in and out of the U.S. at will without any risk of denial. Your green card grants you the permit to work in any company located in the U.S., with exceptions to those who strictly employ only the natives of America. As a bearer of the American green card, you are free to start any business of your own in the U.S. or even own properties since social security benefits will be available to you.
In order to apply for a green card, your eligibility should be based on one of the following categories listed below.
- Immediate relative of the U.S. citizens: This is the top of the list when it comes to qualification and receiving them quickly. If you have relatives in the US, your chances of acquiring the green card are increased.Now before you even think about going or applying for the United States green card, make sure your eligibility status is valid under any of these categories;
- Spouses of U.S. citizens, including recent widows and widowers. Same sex couples are also considered in this categories only if the marriage has been established to be valid in the state or country it took place.
- Unmarried people under the age of 21, with at least one parent that is a U.S. citizen.
- Parents of U.S. citizen, this is valid if the child is at least 21 years of age.
- Step children and step parents of U.S. citizens.
- Adopted children of U.S. citizen; the adoption should have taken place before the child reaches the age of 16.
- Other family members: certain family members of U.S. citizen are also eligible for green cards but they fall into the preference category which means that only a certain number of them will receive green card each year.
- Preferred employees and workers: A total of 140,000 green cards are offered each year to people whose job skills are needed in the U.S.
- Green card lotteries: Certain numbers of green cards are made available to people from countries that in recent years have sent the fewest immigrants to the U.S; underrepresented countries. The winners of this lottery are made permanent residents in the U.S with the families; they live, study and work in the U.S.
- Special immigrants: Sometimes, laws are passed making green cards available to people in special situations such as young people who are under the care of juvenile court, international broadcasters and retired employees of the U.S. government abroad.
How to Apply for a Green Card
The application for a green card is a complicated process. Everybody who wants to obtain a permanent residence permit in the U.S. has to go through these processes. Usually, it takes up to two years, in worst case even up to three years.
The first and most salient step in obtaining a green card is to file an application form, preferably with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in the U.S. This process is beneficial to the applicant as it minimizes the mistakes that could occur when filling the form, since it would be screened before taken to the next step; The next step is attaining an immigrant visa number from the state department and wait patiently for the approval of the request.
During this period of waiting, applicants should prepare all documents needed for further processes which include: a valid passport, two forward facing recent photographs, a record of medical examination, birth certificate and any other travel document demanded depending on the case.
Once you have received your green card, it’s important to play by the rules listed below in order to keep it.
- Ensure to notify USCIS within ten days of moving and register with selective service if qualified. NOTE: All green card holders between age 18 and 25 must register with selective service system (SSS) which tracks those eligible for U.S. military service.
- Ensure to get a free evaluation of the visa needs and contact a qualified immigration attorney to assist with the visa procedures.
- To avoid getting into trouble, ensure not to leave the U.S. for extended period of time.
- Ensure to file your income tax returns and report your income to the U.S. Internal Revenue and state taxing authorities.
- Ensure to support the democratic form of government and not to change the government through illegal means.
- Ensure to renew the green card after a period of ten years for permanent residents and a period of two years for conditional permanent residents.
Apply for a green card today and be granted this benefit through the immigration process.