Every foreign national has heard of the elusive Green Card that the United States government offers foreign nationals. But do you really know what a Green Card is? For starters, Green Cards are officially classified as Permanent Residence Cards. As the official name states, a Permanent Residence Card, or Green Card is proof that you have obtained the classification of a Legal Permanent Residence by the United States Government.
But what is so special of a Green Card? Well for starters is allows you to stay in the United States permanently (as long as you renew it before it expires every few years). Secondly, it grants you certain benefits that are not granted to people who have none immigrant visas.
Now that you know the positives of having a Green Card, and want to apply for one, here is what you need to know. There are multiple ways that you can obtain a Green Card. There's the option of going through the employment route, marriage route, or even just by being a family member of a person who already has a Green Card, just to list a few. Looking into hiring an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can help you determine which category your may fall in, if any and how to proceed.
If you do qualify for a Green Card under one of the various categories, the next thing you need to know is the wait time. Some categories allow you to obtain your Green Card much faster than other categories. This can mean the difference from having to wait a few months to having to wait a year or more.
After you receive your Green Card after completing the extensive process of applying for a Green Card, providing evidence, and attending interviews by Immigration Officers, what next? You should know what rights you have as a Green Card holder. As stated earlier, you are allowed to live in the United States, but you do not necessarily have to (there are some issues that may arise if you spend significant amount of time outside the United States). Since you are a legal resident of the United States, you can use the government welfare services if you need assistance (since you are paying taxes like a citizen of the USA). Finally, if you are over the age of 18 you have to register for the United States draft. Basically, as a Green Card holder you are treated like a United States citizen, except you cannot vote or be a part of jury duty.
Keep in mind, if you are over the age of 18 years, you must carry the Green Card with you whenever you go out in public. Failure to do so can may lead to you being charged with a misdemeanor. Keep it next to your driver's license in your wallet or purse.
So, what is the difference between a Visa and a Green Card?
Visas are more like a temporary pass to enter the United States. There are a number of reasons the US government may grant you a visa such as to study here, to vacation here, and even to work here temporarily. A Green Card on the other hand is a more permanent pass to be in the United States. It grants you almost all the rights that United States citizens have access to. It also allows you to use government funded welfare services if you need assistance. The length that your Green Card is valid for is also much longer than a normal Visa, and renewing it usually is easier.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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