U.S. Green Card Process

Obtaining a Green Card

A green card, or permanent resident card, is the most common pathway to U.S. citizenship. A green card gives you the status of a permanent resident along with legal rights to work in the U.S. Once you have a green card, you may apply for U.S. citizenship after five years in the U.S., or after three years if the green card was obtained through marriage. The green card does not affect your present citizenship status. Typically, a green card is issued for 10 years, and it can be renewed by submitting a green card renewal application.

What Are the Benefits of Being a Green Card Holder?

The green card gives you permanent U.S. resident status, which allows you the freedom to leave and return to the U.S. and to seek employment. It gives you the same rights as an American citizen, and you can also retain your citizenship in your native country. With permanent resident status (a green card), you can expand your business in America without any problems.

What Are the Different Ways to Get a Green Card?

There are 5 main ways an individual can obtain permanent residency (a green card) in the United States:

  • Employment-based green card (the EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 green card categories)
  • Investment
  • Family-based green card (requires sponsorship by a family member who lives in the U.S.)
  • Green card lottery
  • Green card through asylum & refugee status
  • Green card through a grant of Cancellation of Removal by an Immigration Judge

Facts About Green Cards

  • A green card doesn't mean citizenship. You may apply for citizenship after holding green card status for a certain period of time.
  • A green card is not issued for a lifetime. It is for a specific period,normally 10 years. A green card holder will need to renew it after that period of time. Green cards issued through marriage are referred to as “Conditional greencards” and expire after two years. For these, a form I-751 must be filed within 90 days of the expiration of the 2-year period in order to receive a 10-year green card.
  • You must meet certain conditions in order to maintain a green card.

Sample Green Card

This is what the new green card looks like:

On May 11, 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigraton Services (USCIS) announced a redesigned green card. The green card will now be colored green for easy recognition. The green card redesign is the latest advance in USCIS's ongoing efforts to deter immigration fraud. State-of-the-art technology incorporated into the new card prevents counterfeiting, obstructs tampering, and facilitates quick and accurate authentication. Beginning May 11, 2010, USCIS will issue all green cards in the new, more secure format. USCIS will replace green cards already in circulation as individuals apply for green card renewal or green card replacement.

Speak with an Immigration Lawyer About Getting A Green Card

If you or someone you care about is ready to apply for a green card and permanent residency in the U.S., contact Ahmad & Associates to discuss your situation and set up a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney. Based in Northern Virginia, we serve clients in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, across the U.S., and around the world. We speak Urdu, Arabic, French, Spanish, and Hindi, and we can make interpreters available for many other languages.