Permanent residence enables you to live and work in the United States indefinitely as long as you do not abandon your status or engage in conduct which renders you “inadmissible.” An immigrant visa (green card) is proof of permanent resident status in the United States and usually after three or five years, a permanent resident may apply to naturalize and become a citizen of the United States.
Types of Green Cards
If you are a working professional, you may qualify for one of the following employment based green cards:
EB-1: Extraordinary ability workers. Examples include immigrants who can demonstrate exceptional skill in a particular area, including academics (professors, researchers), business (executives, managers), arts, sciences, and athletics, among others
EB-2: Professionals. Examples include immigrants with advanced degrees (Masters or higher, in most cases), those who can demonstrate “exceptional ability” in a certain professional field, and in some cases, entrepreneurs.
EB-3: Skilled or professional workers. Often, prospective immigrants who don’t qualify for EB-1 or EB-2 visas may for an EB-3, as the requirements are less stringent. As such, the backlog for the EB-3 visa is considerably longer. EB-3 visas require a sponsoring employer.
EB-4: Religious workers/special immigrants. (See Religious for more info)
EB-5: Immigrant investor. This applies to foreign nationals who invest $1 million or more in the U.S., and create 10 full-time jobs in the span of two years specifically in areas of particular economic need. (See Business/Investor page for more information)
If you already have a green card or have a family member who does, then there are multiple Family Based Green Cards you may be able to apply for. These include:
Green Card for an immediate relative: Spouse, unmarried child under 21, parent
Green Card for a family member of a U.S. citizen: unmarried children over 21, married child of any age, siblings
Green Card for a family member of a U.S. permanent resident: Spouse, unmarried child
T: Victims of Human Trafficking
U: Crime Victims
Things you should and shouldn’t do as a Green Card holder
Once you obtain a green card, it does not protect you from deportation. Committing certain crimes or fraudulent activities could delay or bar you from obtaining citizenship in the United States. Here are things you should and shouldn’t do in order to protect your status.
- File federal, state, and if applicable, local income taxes
- Register with Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26
- Give your new address to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by filing Form AR-11
- File to remove conditions on a two-year green card at least 90 days before the card expires
- Obey all federal, stat, and local laws
- Maintain your immigration status by not traveling outside the U.S. for extended periods.
- Carry your permanent resident card (or green card) at all times. Jail or fines could apply if you don’t
- Apply to become a U.S. citizen when you are eligible
- Request visas for your spouse and unmarried children to live in the U.S.
- Get social security, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare benefits, if you are eligible
- If your card is valid for 10 years, it must be renewed before it expires.
- Keep copies of all forms you send to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and other government offices. When sending documents, do not send originals. Send Copies
- Consult with an immigration attorney regarding ALL immigration matters. Immigration providers such as notaries, travel agencies, accountants and consultants are not qualified to offer legal services or represent you in front of an immigration officer or in court.
- Leave the U.S. for an extended period of time or move to another country to live
- Lie to get immigration benefits for yourself or someone else
- Say you are a U.S. citizen if you are not
- Vote or register to vote in a federal or local election open to U.S. citizens
- Post inflammatory statements on social media that support terrorist activities or contradict your claim for asylum
- Become a “habitual-drunkard” -someone who is drunk or someone who uses illegal drugs most of the time
- Fail to support your family or to pay child or spousal support as ordered
- Get arrested for assaulting or harassing a family member, including violating a protection order. This is called domestic violence
- Lie to get public benefits
- Help someone else who is not a U.S. citizen or national to enter the United States illegally even if that person is a close relative and even if you are not paid.
- Commit a crime defined as an “aggravated felony,” which includes crimes of violence that are felonies with a one-year prison term.
- Commit murder
- Engage in terrorist activities
- Commit sexual Assault on a child
- Engage in illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people
Commit a crime of “moral turpitude,” which in general is a crime with an intent to steal or defraud; a crime where physical harm is done or threatened; a crime where serious physical harm is caused by reckless behavior; or a crime of sexual misconduct