A "Green Card" also known as the Permanent Resident Card is a credit card-sized plastic card that has more benefits than any credit card in the world. A holder of the Green Card has the power to live and work anywhere in the United States. That's why it is the most sought after card by many people who wish and dream to come to the United States.
This card is provided only to a privileged few, from countries around the world even though millions want it. This card is provided to lawful permanent residents as proof of their immigration status in the United States.
The official name for Green Card is a Permanent Resident Card. It is sometimes also called Alien Registration Card. During the 1950s immigrants were asked to register for an alien registration receipt card because of the Alien Registration Act.
Back then the Green Card was not actually a card. It was a receipt in mere paper form and it was Green in color. It was called Alien Registration Receipt Card.
Since the name was too long and the receipt was Green in color people started calling it a Green Card. The color has been changed multiple times after that but the name stuck.
The Current Green Card is not Green in Color and its not in a paper form. It is currently more of a beige color and a plastic card with a lot of improvements.
That's a short history about Green Card.
You can apply for a Green Card through the government agency called USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Current U.S. immigration laws allow people to apply for a Green Card in many ways.
But before you jump into applying for Green Card let's learn more important things about it.
There are two types of Green Cards.
You already know that there are different ways to get a Green Card. You should also know that the type of Green Card issued depends on the application process, who you are, your current immigration status and more.
As the name suggests, a Conditional Green Card provides conditional permanent resident status. This Conditional Green Card is issued to people who get Green Card through marriage and also to entrepreneurs who apply for Green Card through investment.
This Conditional Green Card is provided instead of a Permanent Green Card because people have arguably abused this system in the past. People would marry a U.S. citizen solely to get a Green Card. To curb this misuse the government started issuing Conditional Green Cards.
The conditional Green Card is valid for 2 years and before it expires the couple should prove that the marriage is legitimate by filing a petition to remove the conditions on residence and follow through the next steps. The petition should be filed within 90 days before the card expires.
Failing to remove conditions on residence will strip the person of the residency status.
If you are a Conditional Green Card holder who acquired the card through marriage and looking to apply for a permanent one, then you might need to remove the conditions on the Green Card by filing Form I-751 with the USCIS.
We have covered more about this process of converting a Conditional Green Card acquired through marriage to a Permanent Green Card in the article "How to remove conditions on my Green Card?".
Conditional Green Cards are also issued to entrepreneurs through investment. The U.S. immigration laws allow people to get a Green Card through investment. The Green Card obtained through this method initially is a conditional Green Card similar to a marriage-based Green Card.
If you got your Green Card through investment, then you might need to remove the conditions on the Green Card by filing Form I-829 with the USCIS.
We have also covered more about this process of converting a Conditional Green Card acquired through investment to a Permanent Green Card in the article "How to remove conditions on my Green Card?".
By law, it is required to carry the Green Card at all times. Because of this, you might lose or damage it, or the card could be stolen. If this happens then you need to apply for a Green Card replacement.
Almost every other process that provides a Green Card will most likely be a Permanent Green Card. Holders of this Green Card are called lawful permanent residents.
A Permanent Green Card is valid for 10 years and this Green Card also allows people to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain eligibility criteria.
To know more about the different ways to get a Permanent Green Card you can check this article "How to Get a Green Card?".
Since a permanent Green Card is valid only for 10 years it requires renewal. With conditional Green Cards if the conditions are not removed the Green Card holder would lose their status but this is not the case for permanent Green Card holders.
Even though the immigration status doesn’t change the holder is required by law to carry the Green Card at all times. If you are a Permanent Green Card holder and your card is about to expire or already expired then you should learn how to renew your Green Card.
Since you are carrying your Green Card with you at all times similar to Conditional Green Card holders, the Green Card could be lost, stolen or damaged. If this is the case, then you have to apply to get a replacement Green Card. If your card is lost, stolen or destroyed, then learn more about the process to get a Replacement Green Card.
If you just want to get a Green Card then you can learn more from this article "How to Get a Green Card?"