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What is a Green Card?

by Rick S.

Green Card, What is a Green Card

American Green Card Requirements 

The green card is a plastic card containing the name and details of its holder. It is meant to identify the holder of the card as a permanent resident of the United States. It is officially referred to as Form I-551. The person holding a green card can stay permanently in the United States and also work.

The holder of a green card can apply to become a citizen of the US after staying for five years. The green card is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is valid for 10 years, after which it can be renewed. The green card is highly coveted by those who want to stay in the US as it allows them the freedom to stay and work permanently and enjoy many of the rights that a citizen has.

Green Card

Getting a green card

There are four ways by which one can get a green card. They are:

1) Through employment

One can get a green card under the following Employment-based (EB) categories. They are issued based on the preferential list as below:

  • 1st preference EB-1: Distinguished academics, people with special abilities, award winners, etc
  • 2nd preference EB-2: Professionals with an advanced qualification or having exceptional talents.
  • 3rd preference EB-3: Skilled workers with accredited degrees and minimum of two years experience.
  • 4th preference EB-4: Religious workers, Armed forces members, broadcasters, NATO members, etc.
  • 5th preference EB-5: Investors ready to invest $500,000 to $1,000,000 in a venture that can create a minimum of ten jobs for US citizens and permanent residents.

To get a green card, the I-140 petition must be submitted by the individual or employer. If it is approved, then an application for a green card can be made by submitting an I-485 form.

What is a Green Card

2) Green Card Lottery

Green card lottery program provides green cards on a random basis to applicants. The eligibility for this scheme is that the applicant must be from a country that has sent less than 50,000 immigrants in the last five years.

They must have minimum high school education or two years of work experience. The application can be made electronically after which the lottery would be held to select immigrants for permanent residency status.

3) Green Card Marriage

Marrying a US citizen or green card holder can entitle a person to get a green card. Marrying a citizen allows the spouse and children to enter the US. While the processing may take time, they can stay in the US from the date of filing the petition. Marrying a green card holder can help spouses and children to travel to the US and stay there, and carry out the immigration process.

Green Card Requirements

4) Green Card Through Family

One can apply for a green card if a family member is a US citizen or a green card holder. This is applicable for a spouse, unmarried child under 21, married child of any age, sibling and parents.

Things to know about the Green card

Following is some information about obtaining the green card that needs to be known by all those interesting in applying for it:

  • Refugee, victims of human trafficking and those seeking asylum due to persecution can apply for a green card. After staying for a year under the refugee/asylee visa, they can then apply for a green card.
  • Victims of crime and abuse can apply for a visa. After getting this and staying in the US, they can apply for a green card.
  • Those who have been living in the US since 1972 can apply for a green card through a registry scheme.
  • Applicants should be careful about fraudsters who promise to get a green card on payment of a fee.
Discover the Difference Between Green Card and Visa


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