A Permanent Resident Card commonly known as Green Card is the evidence of your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States. As a permanent resident you are given the right to work and live permanently in the United States. The Green Card is also an evidence of your registration in accordance with the Immigration law but it is not your citizenship.
There are many methods to obtain a Green Card. The easiest way is to obtain a Green Card through a family member who is a citizen of US or a Lawful Permanent Resident. The other methods are Green Card through employment, Diversity Visa lottery, adoption by US Citizen, based on asylum or refugee status, as Investors and various other methods defined by the law.
General Green Card requirements state that you must be eligible for an immigrant status as described by the Immigration Law, have a qualifying petition approved, obtain the immigrant visa and be admissible to the United States.
Green Card Process – A Step by Step Process
Once you satisfy the Green Card requirements, you must go through the Green Card process. There are various ways to obtain the Green Card and the processing time varies in each method. However, the general method is:
Step 1: First you must determine through which method you are eligible to apply for the Green Card, through marriage to a US citizen or through your employer or any other method.
Step 2: The petitioner or the sponsor must then file the application for you. Your spouse or the employer are said to be the petitioner or sponsor. The form that needs to be filed varies depending upon the method you apply through. For example, if it is through employment, your employer must file Form I 140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. If you are applying based on your marriage, your spouse must file the petition I 130, Petition for Alien Relative.
Step 3: As there are many restrictions in obtaining a Green Card, you may not be immediately given the Green Card once the immigrant petition is completed. After your Immigrant petition is accepted, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Step 4: The National Visa Center will issue the Immigrant Visa Number to you. If you are already in the United States during the application process, you may use the Immigrant Visa Number to adjust your status. If you are outside the United States, you may then apply for an Immigrant Visa at the US Consulate.
Depending upon the method adopted, the Green Card process may have further steps. You must be aware of the fact that once the Green Card has been issued to you, there are many other restrictions and obligations to be followed. If the restrictions are not followed properly, your Green Card could be revoked and you may also be deported. You must always take precautions to retain your Lawful Permanent Residence status. If you are leaving United States for a very long period, then you must file for the re-entry permit with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and get it authorized before your travel.