What is a Green Card?

The American Green Card one of the most sought after document for all immigrants in the USA, is also known as Permanent Resident Card and was formerly known as Alien Registration Card. Green Card holders are authorized to live and work in the USA on a permanent basis. The Green Card process also refers to the immigration process of becoming a permanent resident of the United States. The Green Card permit is proof that the holder is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and been officially granted immigration benefits. Green Card holders can be removed from the USA if certain conditions of the status are not met.


The Green Card holders enjoy several benefits in the USA. There are few restrictions and obligation as well:

  • A green card holder can leave or enter the USA at any point of time as their wish and the immigration officials will not deny them at the port of entry.
    Green Card holders are requested to keep track of the entry and exit dates and carry Green Card with you while traveling.
  • Green Card is valid for lifetime so there is no need of worrying about expiration of authorized stay in the USA.
    The Green Card however has to be renewed every ten years.
  • The Green Card holders need not have to worry about employment sponsorship in the USA.
    Some jobs in the USA need security clearance and only green card holders and US citizens will get this clearance easily.
  • Green Card holders in America are allowed to start their own business, company or corporation.
  • There is an option to apply for government sponsored financial aid for education.
  • The social security is guaranteed for Green Card holders who have worked for a minimum of 10 years or 40 quarters before retiring.
  • Green Card holders have legal rights of US citizens except the right to vote in the USA.
  • The Green Card is also useful in buying life or health insurance in America. Many insurance companies will ask for Green Card before giving coverage.
  • In America, Green Card holders are allowed to legally own properties, cars, weapons... as any other US citizen.

US Green Card Renewal

If you are a permanent resident and your 10 year green card has expired or will expire within 6 months may begin renewal process by,
  • Online E-Filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.
  • Filing a paper Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card by mail.
If you are outside the USA
If you are outside the USA and your green card will expire within 6 months you have to return to USA within 1 year of your departure from America and before the expiry of the card. As soon as you return to America you can apply for the renewal. In case if you are outside America and the card expires before you apply for the renewal then you should contact the nearest US consulate, USCIS office, or U.S. port of entry prior to your departure and attempting to file Form I-90 for a renewal green card.

Different Categories

In order to be eligible for Green Card you have to fall in one of the below categories:
  • Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens.
  • Other Family Members.
  • Preferred Employees and Workers.
  • Ethnic Diversity.
  • Special Immigrants.
  • Refuge and Political Asylum.
  • Long-Term Residents.

Different ways to qualify for a Green Card

There are different eligibility criteria to qualify for the US Green Card. The following are some of the important category of immigration process that can grant Green Card to an alien.
  1. Immigrant Category Eligibility:
    Those who want to become permanent residents through a qualified family member, a job or employment or a special category will be classified in this category on a preference system. Except for the immediate relatives of US citizens who are given the highest immigration priority for permanent residence with only a few exceptions.

  2. Family Based Immigration:
    The relatives of American citizens who are called as immediate relatives need not have to wait for a visa to become available.
    Who are the the relatives who can get permanent residence quickly?
    • Parents of a U.S. citizen.
    • Spouses of a U.S. citizen.
    • Unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen.
    Please note: Only 21 years old US citizens can applying for their parents.

    The remaining family based categories have to wait for visa to become available before they can apply for permanent residency.
    • First Preference: Unmarried, adult (21 years of age or older) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
    • Second Preference A: Spouses of permanent residents and the unmarried children (under the age of 21)) of permanent residents.
    • Second Preference B: Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or age or older) of permanent residents.
    • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.
    • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.

  3. Job or Employment Based:
    The immigration based on employment or a job offer may help for applying for permanent residence when an immigration number becomes available according to the following order of preferences.
    • First Preference: Priority Workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
    • Second Preference: Members of professions holding an advanced degree or persons of exceptional ability (including individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver).
    • Third Preference: Skilled Workers, professionals and other qualified workers.
    • Fourth Preference: Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations.
    • Fifth Preference: Employment creation immigrants (investors or entrepreneurs).

  4. Refugee or Asylum Based Status:
    People who have been in the USA as a refugee or the qualifying spouse or child of a refugee have to apply for permanent residence (green card) 1 year after their entry. If you are asylum and a qualifying spouse or chile of a asylee you may apply for green card 1 year after the grant of your asylum status.
    By the US law, refugees have to apply for a green card 1 year after being admitted to the United States in refugee status.

  5. Other Ways to Qualify:
    Most immigrants come to the USA to live permanently through a family memberís sponsorship, employment, or a job offer... There are other ways to get a green card and these adjustments are limited to individuals and they also have to meet certain criteria to qualify for a green card. Some of the ways to get green card will be if you are a Amerasian Child of a U.S. Citizen,
    American Indian Born in Canada, Armed Forces Member, Cuban Native or Citizen, Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, Haitian Refugee, Help HAITI Act of 2010, Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act...