Green Card officially known as United States Permanent Resident Card authorizes the immigrants to permanently live and work in USA. Its a legal testimony verifying the permanent resident status of an immigrant. Through it a person enjoys equality in terms of rights with the Americans and also simultaneously possesses the citizenship of his homeland. The tenure of it is for ten years and has to be renewed by submitting a renewal application. The card informally and famously known as green card because of its color, in spite of its various benefits has some drawback as the holder of it can be asked to leave US if some conditions of his status are not met. It is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services earlier known as Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Different ways of obtaining it
To get a permanent resident card there are many options available to the immigrant to suit his suitability. They are:
• Investment based – Immigration through investment
• Employment based – Immigration through employment
• Green card lottery – Immigration through Diversity Lottery
• Family based – Immigration through a family member
• Obtaining the Card through asylum / refugee status
• Immigrating under the Immigration and Nationality Act or one which is approved by The Director of Central Intelligence
Process to apply for it
There are different procedures to apply for a green card as depending on the category the immigrant is immigrating under. However some general processes which is applicable to all immigrants are:
Eligibility criteria: There are certain conditions which a person should meet so as to be able to apply for a permanent residence in US.
• He should qualify under any one of the categories of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
• He should have an immigration petition submitted by his employer or relative or the applicant himself in case of an investor visa and approved. In most of the cases this is required by the immigrant which strengthens his ability to immigrate and also decides his category of immigration.
• He must have an immigrant visa. The visa is readily available to immediate relatives of US citizens. However to the rest, their visa is decided by factors like the category of immigration and the native place of the immigrant.
• The immigrant has to prove his eligibility to the consular officials for immigrating.
Judgement of the Immigrant visa: This step involves the immigrant to apply at the USCIS for change of his present status to permanent resident status or apply at the DOS for getting an immigrant visa. The two processes which come under this are:
Adjustment of Status – This process is adopted by individuals already in the United States. As per this procedure, the Immigration and Nationality Act changes the immigration status of a person in US to a permanent one after conducting a series of checks. Post the acceptance of the application of the Adjustment of Status, the applicant is not allowed to leave US unless on certain grounds where he can leave with travel documents from the USCIS. There is also a provision under which an applicant can start working while the decision of his application is yet to be taken with the help of Employment Authorization Documents. After a thorough check of all the necessary papers, security checks and interviews (required in certain cases) the application is approved with the green card mailed to the applicant.
Consular Processing – This process is adopted by those who live outside of America and want to immigrate there as permanent residents. In this case the person applies at the US embassy for an immigrant visa. After the matter is judged and approved by the consulate officer an immigrant visa is issued by the embassy. With this visa the applicant is allowed to enter US as an immigrant, followed by the permanent resident card which is send to his address after the immigrant being processed for it at the time of entry.