The “Green Card” is the permanent resident card that is issued to a foreign national who has immigrated permanently to the United States. As many foreign nationals think, immigrating to America and getting a Green Card to remain permanently in the country is not an easy task. The United States welcomes foreign nationals but at the same time it focuses on lawful immigration. And so, it issues Green Cards to foreign nationals as a proof of their legal immigration status in the United States.
Various rights are granted to the people who become permanent residents of the United States. Many rights that are similar to those granted to US citizens are granted to the Green Card holders. Foreign nationals who are liable to such rights will be protected by all the American laws. As far as they do no not commit crimes that might result in deportation, they may reside in any American state. Moreover, they will be given the right to work for any US employer, except the employers who hire only US citizens.
US citizens are allowed to sponsor their family members. Though the Green Card holders may not sponsor all the categories of relatives, they may sponsor their immediate relatives such as their spouse and unmarried children, for permanent resident status in the United States. The US immigration law allows the permanent residents to sponsor their relatives in order to promote family unity.
Moreover, you may apply for and receive financial aids from the government for educational purposes. And you may also pay less in-state tuition fees which is four times lesser than what the foreign nationals pay. You will also be eligible to receive social security benefits. Though you are not a US citizen and only a permanent resident, you may own property in the United States and you may also start and run a business in the country.
It must be remembered that the permanent resident card is a revocable privilege. A Green Card holder can be removed from the country, if the immigration officers find that he is ineligible for lawful status. Hence, it is mandatory to retain the status that is granted to you. There are certain pieces of evidence that can be garnered to show that you are continuing to maintain your lawful permanent residence in the U.S. even if you have to spend a prolonged period of time outside the U.S. Of course, it is always best for you to consult about any issues that impact your lawful permanent residence status with a qualified immigration law attorney or lawyer so that the status is not revoked.
If you wish to become a US citizen, you may apply for naturalization, a process through which eligible permanent residents may become US citizens. However, to become a naturalized American Citizen, you will have to satisfy some eligibility requirements. If you do not want to become a US citizen, you may remain permanently in the country as a permanent resident, provided that you do not abandon your status. If you choose to be a permanent resident, forever, remember that you must renew your Green Card every ten years.
Form N-400 is used to apply for U.S. Citizenship through the Naturalization process. Lawful permanent residents (also known as green card holders) of the United States, who meet the eligibility requirements, can file N-400 Form to request citizenship.
To be able to apply for citizenship through naturalization, you have to meet the following requirements. You should:
- Be 18 years of age or above.
- A lawful permanent resident for 5 years (3 years if married to a US citizen).
- Have maintained continuous residence during the past 5 years (3 years if married to a US citizen).
- Have maintained physical presence during the past 5 years (3 years if married to a US citizen).
- Have good moral character.
- Have basic knowledge of English.