What is a Permanent Resident Green Card?

A green card is the size and shape of an average driver's license. It's your official permission from the United States government to live in the country. Having a green card means that you're a "permanent resident" of the United States, although not a citizen.

Several Ways to Get a Green Card

You must have a qualified reason to request a green card, but the reasons are numerous and many people qualify. If any employer has offered you a job here, a job that no American is willing to fill, you're eligible for a green card. You're also eligible if you're married to or engaged to an American citizen, if at least one of your family members is a citizen, or because of a few other special circumstances. Special circumstances include asylum because you're in danger in your home country, or status as a physician, religious worker, or military or government official.

Green Card Holders Have Rights

Although having a green card doesn't automatically make you a United States citizen, it gives you the right to ask for citizenship. You can also travel to your home country and come back without restriction. American laws protect you. You even have constitutional rights.

Green Card Holders Have Responsibilities

When you accept a green card, you take on certain responsibilities as well. You must obey all of the laws that protect you. You must file and pay income taxes. Men between the ages of 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service.

Some Green Cards Are Conditional

Green cards are sometimes "conditional" for the first two years. This is something like a probationary period. Within 90 days of your green card's expiration, you can apply to make it permanent. In most cases, the application process is simple and the government approves you for a permanent card. Problems might arise if you've broken the law or the terms under which you got your green card in the first place. If you got your green card because you married a U.S. citizen, for example, and divorced during the conditional period, you'd have to prove that you didn't get married just to become a permanent resident.

An Immigration Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding permanent resident green cards is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an immigration lawyer.

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