Green Card

Overview

A green card is issued to all permanent residents as proof that they are authorized to live and work in the United States. If you are a permanent resident age 18 or older, you are required to have a valid green card in your possession at all times. Current green cards are valid for 10 years, or 2 years in the case of a conditional resident, and must be renewed before the card expires.

A green card can be used to prove employment eligibility in the United States when completing the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. It can also be used to apply for a Social Security Card and a state issued driver’s license. A green card is valid for readmission to the United States after a trip abroad if you do not leave for longer than 1 year.

Investors

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program provides Green Cards for the foreign investor, his spouse and unmarried children under 21. (See EB-5 Section of this website.)

Family

If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States or is a lawful permanent resident, your relative in the U.S. will need to sponsor you and prove he/she has enough income or assets to support you, the intending immigrant(s) when in the United States.

First, the USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition filed by your sponsoring relative for you. Next, most sponsors will need to demonstrate adequate income or assets to support the intending immigrant, and accept legal responsibility for financially supporting their family member, by completing and signing a document called an Affidavit of Support. Once this is complete, then the intending immigrant may apply for the immigrant visa to come to the United States.

Employment

To be considered for an immigrant visa under some of the employment-based categories below, the applicant’s prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Once received, the employer then files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category.

Diversity

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas (DVs) annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

DV entrants must be eligible to receive a visa by qualifying based on education, work, and other requirements. The law and regulations require that every DV entrant must have at least:

  • A high school education or its equivalent; or
  • Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years’ training or experience.

Remove Conditions

Two types of Green Cards are issued on a conditional basis. The first is a green card issued to a spouse in which the marriage is less than two years. The second is a green card issued to an EB-5 Immigrant Investor.

In order to remain a permanent resident, a conditional permanent resident must file a petition to remove the condition during the 90 days before the card expires. The conditional card cannot be renewed. The conditions must be removed or you will lose your permanent resident status.

Details regarding removing conditions by marriage can be read here.

Replacement

You will need to replace your green card if:

  • Your previous card was lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed
  • Your card was issued to you before you were 14 and you have reached your 14th birthday (unless your card expires before your 16th birthday)
  • You have been a commuter and are now taking up actual residence in the United States
  • You have been a permanent resident residing in the United States and are now taking up commuter status
  • You have a previous version of the alien registration card that is now invalid
  • Your card contains incorrect information
  • Your name or other biographic information on the card has been legally changed since you last received your card, or
  • You never received the previous card that was issued to you by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Reentry Permits

If you plan on being absent from the United States for longer than a year, it is advisable to first apply for a reentry permit on Form I-131. Obtaining a reentry permit prior to leaving the United States allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Please note that it does not guarantee entry into the United States upon your return as you must first be determined to be admissible; however, it will assist you in establishing your intention to permanently reside in the United States.

If you are a permanent resident seeking reentry, this article may help you.

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