Green Card

The "green card" is the document issued to permanent residents in the United States. The green card is the document that proves the immigrant status of a permanent resident but it does not grant residence. This means, that if the card expires, a resident will not automatically lose her status. The "green card" shows the name of the resident, her birth date, the date the card was issued, and the expiration date, the resident's category classification, and the USCIS #. 

How do I get a green card?

There are different paths to the permanent resident status, the most common are family-based petitions and work-based petitions. Nonimmigrants in certain categories can also file a petition for permanent residence when they have been in the United State for a certain period of time and comply with the legal requirements. Beneficiaries of asylum, U-visa, special juvenile immigrant status, and diversity visa are among those eligible for a green card. 

Family-based petitions that make an applicant eligible for a green card can be completed in two ways, adjustment of status or consular processing. Whether an applicant uses one or the other depends on different factors, among others, the applicant's presence in the United States, the existence of grounds of inadmissibility, the personal situation of the applicant. 

Do I have to carry my "green card" all the time?

Although the "green card" is the document used to prove the immigrant status of a resident, it is not necessary to carry the green card all the time. Additionally, it is very important that a resident keeps this document safe. According to the laws of the United States, if a person loses or has its green stole he must report it immediately and request a new document. Additionally, for identification purposes, a permanent resident should also acquire a state identification which can be used for all most all legal proceeding in the United States.

Do I need the green card to travel overseas?

To travel overseas, a person must present her passport. The passport is the document globally recognized for international travel. However, to come back to the United States a person must prove that she has some legal basis to request admission. In this case, a permanent resident must present her green card in order to be admitted again to the United States.

When does a green card expire?

A green card may be issued for two or ten years, the time after which the document expires and it must be renewed by the applicant. Family-based petitions where the applicant (the non-resident) and the petitioner (resident or US citizen) have been married for less than two years usually result in the grant of a two-year green card. In this case, the green card is subject to the condition that the marriage is real and it continues. After the two years have passed the new resident must file a petition to remove the conditions of the green card and to get a ten-year permanent resident card. Other family petitions usually result in the grant of a ten-year permanent resident card.  

When do I have to renew my green card?

A petition to renew the green card or to remove the condition should be filed 6 months before the expiration date. It might be filed after expiration. However, this fact could complicate the petition and raise concerns in the immigration officer reviewing the petition. If a resident's card expires before filing for the renewal it may be better to speak to an attorney. The lack of renewal is not by itself ground for losing the status of permanent resident, but it requires attention and promo action.  


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