A Permanent Resident Card or also known as a “green card” gives you official immigration status – lawful permanent residency – in the United States. Permanent Residency gives an individual not a US citizen the legal right to live and work in the United States, permanently. It is possible to apply for many government jobs with a green card. A Permanent Resident also has the right to sponsor some relatives for Permanent Residency. You may keep your present citizenship, and you may apply for U.S. citizenship at a later time. Permanent Residents also receive health, education, and other benefits. A Permanent Resident may also apply for United States citizenship. Permanent Resident Cards are generally valid for ten years, but the status is valid for a lifetime. Common methods used to obtain a green card include:
- Permanent Residence Through Employment
- Permanent Residence Through Relatives
- Permanent Residence Through Asylum
- Permanent Residence Through the Diversity Lottery
- Family Based Permanent Residency
An adult U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident may make an I-130 application to the Immigration Service for an immigrant visa for a spouse or other close relatives such as children, mother, father, sister or brother. Once the I-130 application is approved, it does not necessarily mean that there is an immigrant visa available yet for the family member to use. The family member must wait until an immigrant visa is available for them to live permanently in the U.S. When the immigrant visa is available, your family member can file a petition with the Immigration Service to “adjust status” to alien permanent resident status (green card) inside the U.S. or make an application for Consular Processing in their home country.
The spouse of a U.S. citizen is typically entitled to an “immediately available” immigrant visa. The others are placed into preference order which determines who is given priority entry into the United States:
First Preference: Unmarried, adult (21 years of age or older) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents and the unmarried children or unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.