The US Green Card – Your ticket to the American dream

The world’s favorite card

A US green card is the most desired card in the world. Hundreds of millions around the world dream of having a green card to begin a new and better life in the United States. The US green card (officially called Form I-551) is evidence of your permanent resident status in the United States.


Live permanently in the United States

Green card status gives you the right to live and work in the United States for life. With a green card you have the freedom to leave and return to the United States without a visa. With a green card you can start and grow a business in the richest single market in the world.


Many ways to get a US green card

Though most people get a green card through family or an employer there are other way to get a green card. US immigration provides several paths to a US green card:

1. Green Card through employer -Employment based green cards

2. Family Based Green cards –including green card via marriage

3. Green Card through investment (from $500,000 to $1,000,000)

4. Green Card through Refugee or Asylum status

5. Green card lottery

6. Green card through special humanitarian programs – Cuban Native, NACARA, VAWA, U visa etc.


Demand for green cards exceeds supply

Each method has its own eligibility requirements and application process. Generally there are numerical limitations on the number of green cards issued each year and the demand exceeds the supply. The immediate relative of US citizens are however exempt from numerical limitations.


Adjustment of status or consular processing?

If you are abroad you can get US permanent residency through processing at US consulate. But if you are inside the United States, you may do an adjustment of status application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service so that you can get your green card without ever having to leave the United States. However to get the benefit of this easier and more convenient way to get your green card you must meet certain requirements.


Keeping your green card after you get it

Once you have received your US green card you should remember that there are certain conditions for keeping your green card. You must not abandon your residence by leaving the United States for more than a temporary visit abroad or engage in conduct which violates the conditions of your green card status. If you have a conditional green card you must file Form I-751 or I-829 within 90 days of when your two-year conditional green card expires or you will lose your permanent residency status.


Get US citizenship and a US passport

Once you have a green card you can file for United States citizenship after five years if you have completed certain residency requirements in the United States and meet other requirements. This period is shortened to three years if you are married to a US citizen, or four years if you received your permanent residency through asylum.


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Gary Goodin

Northern Virginia immigration lawyer Gary Goodin provides effective personal legal advice and representation in immigration and citizenship cases from his law office in Tysons Corner, VA. His practice area includes marriage green cards, k1 visas, employment based visas and complex naturalization, and citizenship cases. To learn more about Gary Goodin visit the home page of this green card and US immigration law blog. More information is also available at

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