Green Card Explained – Benefits, Eligibility, Facts, etc.
Have you ever played the lottery? Now you have a chance to potentially play with the US Government to get your green card. This is just one of the many ways to get there. What exactly is a green card?
In the US, the permanent residence is called the Green Card. Permanent residence means you would have similar rights to that of a citizen. There are some limitations such as you cannot vote with holding permanent residence. Different countries can have different names for permanent residence. It is still called a green card even though it is not green anymore. This term references to the past when it was green.
Interesting Facts about the green card:
- It came into effect after World War II – persons older than 14 had to register in the US
- Initially green in colour
- Physical card is valid for 10 years
- Can lose the card if conditions are not met
- Requirement to file US tax returns
- Not US citizenship
- Lottery system
As was mentioned, there is a lottery system. The US Government allocates about 50,000 green cards through this lottery. It is held annually and allows anyone from a qualifying country to apply. If successful, then the applicant “wins” a green card. There are not many countries, if any others, in the world that have this kind of mandated lottery aimed at creating diversity.
Take note of the conditions when one can lose the green card:
- Declaring yourself a non US resident
- Residing outside of the US for 1 continuous year
- Not filing US tax returns while residing abroad
- Residing outside the US for more than 2 years while in possession of a re-entry permit
Given the above conditions, the main way to retain the green card is by continuous residence. That makes sense as you are declaring permanent residence. Permanent residence includes filing regular tax returns. These tax returns can be on federal, state, municipal levels including income and property tax.
Now let us understand the benefits that the green card brings to you:
Let’s look at some benefits of holding the green card:
- Work or study in the US freely without any permits or authorizations
- Purchase property
- Travel unrestricted to/from the US and your home country
- Start a company and register it
- Qualify for US citizenship after 5 years of continuous residence
- Sponsor family members to come live with you in the US
Imagine the possibility of sponsoring your spouse, children, or other qualifying relatives to join you in the US? With a green card that possibility exists. However, there is no guarantee. The applicant should follow the correct process with the correct documentation. Of course, it may take some time before your relative can join you. You should make the decision knowing the time and financial commitment required. More information on family sponsorship here.
One of the other powerful benefits is the capability to work and study with no restrictions. This benefit provides you the opportunity to move wherever you like. If you need to move for work or studies or you find a better job, then you can. However, take note that some employers may only want to employ US citizens. Employers may have this preference due to security reasons.
Just about how does one become eligible for a green card?
You need to determine the type of green card you can apply for. You can find the criteria here. Another important part of the eligibility is if there are visas available which varies depending upon the type and priority.
The type and priority come into play when it you decide what type to use and approval decision. Certain priorities rank higher than others, e.g. immediate families rank highest. Applications with those green card types hold highest preference and USCIS handles them usually first.
An applicant may feel stressed during the application process. However, if an applicant possesses such a permit, then they hold a lot of freedom in the US. Such freedom provides them with an opportunity in line with US ideology. Receiving the green card is a milestone and requires prudence to ensure you can maintain it! Don’t commit a mistake or let a timeline be missed to jeopardize your permanent residency, and hence green card!