7 Facts about the Coveted Green Card

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There is a new merit-based immigration system, which was introduced in the White House, that creates new standards for determining which foreigners are granted for legal residency in the United States.

The points-based system helps us in ranking the applicants based on work experience, family ties, and education and more likely how they would score if the applicant can speak English and can financially support themselves.

Here are the seven facts that you need to know about permanent residency, as compiled from information published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service:


What is a green card?

In order to know how to apply for permanent residency, you need to know what a green card is and why do we need it. A green card, formally known as a permanent resident card, is issued to foreign nationals by the Citizenship and Immigration Service. Once it is issued, it authorizes the recipients to reside and work in the U.S. indefinitely. You must know that the card has holographic images and laser-engraves fingerprints in order to prevent counterfeiting and it must be renewed every 10 years. If a person wants to be naturalized and become a U.S. citizen, a green card is required.


Why is it called a green card?

Over the years, the card has been in various shades of pale blue, pink and yellow, but, according to CitizenPath.com, the first one was produced shortly after World War II, the card was green in color and the first version of the permanent resident card was called an alien registration receipt card.  


Who is eligible for a green card?

Presently, there are numerous categories of people who are eligible for a green card, that includes spouses of U.S. citizens; parents of U.S. citizens; who are at least 21 years of age, workers with “extraordinary ability” in a field of science, arts, education, business or athletics; people who have had asylum or refugee status for at least a year; foreign nationals who have invested or who are actively in the process of investing with at least 1 million in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. that creates a full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees; and to those in investing 500,000 dollars in targeted employment area.


Green cards, also known as green card lottery, are available through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. It uses a grant a random drawing of 50,000 a year to pre-screened applicants from countries that have a low rate of immigration to the U.S.


By 2017, there are native countries that were barred from applying for a green card lottery and they are  Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (not including Hong Kong), Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haití, India, Jamaica, México, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom and its dependent territories, except for the Northern Ireland.

Due to this, the  administration planned to end the green card lottery.


What’s the procedure for obtaining a green card and how long does it take?

The legal immigrants who are currently in the U.S. must file their papers to have their current visa status change and apply for permanent resident. There is a set of the number of immigrant visas that need to be issued to foreign nationals in becoming lawful permanent residents every year, thus there is no such limit on immigrant visas for “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens.

The foreigners, who want to go to the United States, must apply at the American consulate abroad. The process starts with an initial petition leading to the assignment of an immigrant visa number, and once it is done, it allows the application to move forward.


To obtain the green card, the processing time varies, but six months or more than six months is not usual.


Is there a cost?

There is a cost, it’s just over 1,000 dollars, it includes an adjusting fee for a foreign national’s immigration status, the collection of fingerprints and other biometric information such as a photograph and signature, which is used for security checks.


What types of benefits come with a green card?

The benefits that you can get with a green card, aside from the fact you are allowed to live and work permanently in the United States, is that you can travel around the country and can sponsor a certain family member, they can apply for their own green card. The permanent residents can apply, after 5 years, for a U.S. citizen. There are other benefits that come with a green card, that includes the eligibility for Social Security, retirement and tax benefits, insurance coverage and the grants for research and education. They can legally apply for financing purchases such as house or car.


What kind of prohibition do green card holders face?

The green card holders are not allowed to run for elected office or vote in federal elections and neither can they serve on a jury.


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