What is a green card?
A Permanent Resident Card is also known as a green card. A green card is proof that someone is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. A LPR is a person who has permission to permanently live and work in the United States.
A green card is different from a visa. While a green card results in lawful permanent residency, a visa is only a temporary pass that lets you enter the US and remain there for a specific period of time.
If a LPR does not follow the immigration rules, they can lose their green card and risk deportation.
An LPR is eligible to become a naturalized United States citizen after 5 years, and in some circumstances 3 years.
Getting a green card
To apply for a green card you must file paperwork with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the immigrant is outside the US, you will also have to file paperwork with the Department of State (DOS).
You can ask for a green card through:
- A family member
- Certain types of job offers or employment
- Humanitarian status, such as a refugee or asylee, a victim of crime or abuse, or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
- The diversity visa lottery