The term “resident alien” applies to immigrants who reside in the United States and includes both Permanent Resident and Conditional Resident statuses. Essentially, a resident alien refers to non-U.S. citizens holding legally recognized permission to live and work in the United States.
USCIS information broadly defines the term “alien” as a non-U.S. citizen. In other words, aliens include all noncitizens living in the United States– whether documented or undocumented.
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), also known as Permanent Resident Aliens or green card holders, include non-citizen U.S. residents with “lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant,” according to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) glossary definition.
Green cards remain valid for a period of 10 years. USCIS requires immigrants to apply for green card renewal by filing Form I-90, Application for Green Card Renewal within 6 months of expiration each decade.
In earlier days of U.S. immigration processes, non-U.S. citizens legally permitted to live and work in the United States gained Resident Alien cards with no expiration date. “If your card does not have an expiration date on the front, then you have a very old version. Most old versions are no longer valid. Even if your card does not have an expiration date on it, we recommend you apply to renew it,” according to form instructions.
Conditional Residents make up another Permanent Resident Alien category. Conditional residents include immigrants with U.S. citizen spouses and immigrants who make business investments in the United States. Just as with the LPR category, immigrants with conditional residency hold legal status. However, the conditional status applies for a period of only 2 years. After the 2-year period, conditional permanent residents apply for removal of the conditions by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence within 90 days of the conditional expiration. With the removal of conditions, these immigrants receive full LPR status valid for 10 years.