Immigration 101

Immigration 101: What Are Green Cards?

If you’re a non-US citizen wanting to live the American Dream, first, you must obtain a green card.

What are green cards? Green cards are your ticket to living and working in the United States permanently. After a few years as a green card holder, you may even become a full-fledged citizen.

From 1980, nearly 35 million immigrants have obtained green cards and became permanent residents by 2019. About 45 percent of that total became naturalized citizens.

The American Dream is within reach. You only need to take the first step.

To help you get started, continue reading below to learn more about green cards.

What Are Green Cards?

A green card is known officially as a Permanent Resident Card. It confers to you the status of a lawful permanent resident.

A green card holder has access to certain rights. You can reside permanently and gain employment in the US. As a lawful permanent resident, you’re also protected by all laws of the United States.

You can own property and even help your family members enter the US. After five years, you become eligible for naturalization (learn how). Once you become a US citizen, you can enjoy more privileges, such as voting during elections, running for public office, or serving as a juror.

How to Get a Green Card

You can apply for a green card through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But you have to meet the eligibility criteria specified on the USCIS website.

There are many ways to qualify for an application. For example, you can be sponsored by a close relative who happens to be a US citizen. You can apply as a first preference immigrant worker if you’re an outstanding researcher or have an extraordinary ability in science.

You can even win an application through a lottery, officially known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.

Check out the list below of all the major categories through which you can get a green card:

  • through family
  • through employment
  • as a special immigrant
  • as a refugee or asylee
  • as a victim of a crime or human trafficking
  • as a victim of abuse
  • through the registry (if you’ve resided lawfully or unlawfully in the US since January 1, 1972)
  • through other categories (diversity visa lottery, born in the US to a foreign diplomat, etc.)

What Do You Need to Get a Green Card?

If you’re eligible, you only need two forms typically. The first is an immigration petition filed by your sponsor or petitioner. Once the USCIS approves this petition, the next step is to file your green card application form.

The application process involves attending a biometrics appointment for fingerprints, photos, and signatures. You’ll also need to attend an interview.

The USCIS can either approve or decline your application. But if it gets approved, you’ll receive a green card that’s valid for ten years.

Emigrating to Greener Pastures

The US is the land of many opportunities. It’s no surprise that a lot of people are interested in knowing the answer to “what are green cards and how do I get one?”. Now that you’ve learned the basics, you can take the first step towards your very own American Dream.

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Christophe Rude
Christophe Rude
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