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You might have heard the expression “green card” before, but do you know what it means? Do you know what you can do with a green card, and do you know its limitations?
We’ll explain in detail what a green card is and what you can do with one right now.
What is a Green Card?
You might sometimes hear the term “green card” referred to by its official name, which is a permanent resident card. Green card is a more informal term for the same thing.
If you have one of these cards, it allows you to live and work in the United States indefinitely, even though you are a foreign national. That means if you were born in another country and maintain your citizenship there, you can get a green card and work and live in the US for as long as you like, provided you don’t get yourself in trouble with the US legal system.
If you commit a crime in the US, that’s usually cause to get your green card revoked, and you can get sent back to your country of origin. Having a green card is also not the same thing as becoming a US citizen. That requires you to take a citizenship test to have your official status changed. At that point, having a green card is no longer necessary.
Having a green card allows you to remain in the US and in good standing while you work here. If you have skills in a specific niche or industry that the United States values, there’s a good chance you can get one of these cards if you apply for one.
How Can You Get a Green Card?
It’s easier to get a green card when you apply for one if you have a family member already living here who is a lawful permanent resident. You can also get one in some instances if you are an unmarried child under 21 of a legal permanent resident.
Green cards last a long time, but not forever. Your green card will be good for ten years, but at the end of that time, when your card is up for renewal, you’ll have to file a new form I-485. That form is an application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the USCIS. You will also need to fill out some forms that go along with that and pay all the necessary fees.
If you need to know some additional facts about how to renew your green card, you can check out the USCIS website. This agency will review your application and usually schedule an interview as well. You’ll need to speak to someone at the agency about your work and living status in America.
If the agency feels you have a valid reason to remain here, they will grant you a new green card, which is good for another ten years. When that decade is up, you’ll need to go through the process again.
What Limitations Come with Green Cards?
Let’s say you’ve been granted a green card, and you’re living and working in the US. You have many of the rights and privileges that are afforded to US citizens. However, you do not have all of them.
For instance, you can’t vote in US elections, as you are not considered a US citizen. You also don’t have as high of a priority to sponsor other individuals for green cards as US citizens do.
Green cards are not automatically extended to children born outside the US. These cards are also nontransferable, so if you get one, it applies only to yourself.
How Easy is Getting a Green Card?
You might also wonder how easy it is to get a green card. Many individuals who go through it find it to be a long and difficult process.
The law in this area is exceedingly complex, and you’ll have to work through a mountain of paperwork. The US government is trying to ascertain whether you have skills that would make you an asset if you work in America. If you have a skill set that is seen as lacking in the US, that’s going to make you a stronger candidate than some other applicants.
For example, if you’re a neurosurgeon or someone with an equally rare skill set, that makes you a more attractive candidate. That’s not all the USCIS will look for, though, as they delve into your background.
They’re also looking to see whether your country of origin is one that’s typically considered unfriendly toward the United States. If so, it might take them longer to vet you to ensure you don’t have any ties to terrorist organizations or anything along those lines.
What Can You Do to Make the Process Easier?
If you’re attempting to get a green card and you’re finding the process difficult, many applicants look into hiring an immigration lawyer. You can usually find law firms or individual law practitioners who specialize in these kinds of cases.
Such an individual or law firm will know all about the hoops that you have to jump through and the many forms you have to fill out. They’ll know what kinds of questions the USCIS agents will ask during your interview.
These lawyers can help you feel more confident as you go through the process. They can ensure you have all the necessary paperwork, that you filled it all out correctly, and that you turn it in by the deadlines the USCIS imposes.
Once you have your green card, you can feel secure in the knowledge that while you’re not a US citizen, you should be able to live and work here with no problems. As long as you’re careful to follow all US laws, you can make a living and won’t have to worry about deportation. You can definitely create a new life for yourself here if that’s something that appeals to you.