A green card is an official document that says you are eligible to live, work, and study in the United States. If you have a green card, you may start a new life in the United States without fear of deportation.
But what does it mean to be eligible to live and work in the United States?
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The Green Card plays a critical role in any person’s application for permanent residence (and ultimately citizenship). A green card allows you to enjoy all of the benefits of living and working in the US and many other countries including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Germany, and New Zealand. You may be able to get a green card simply by applying for it at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
But before you can apply for a green card through your home country, you must first obtain one from U.S. Immigration Services (USIS), or USCIS. Most people apply for their first green card through USIS (with some exceptions). USIS is the part of the Department of Homeland Security that helps with immigration decisions (such as approving or denying asylum claims).
It is not an immigration agency like USCIS, but rather it is part of DHS which applies certain aspects of immigration law to different areas within DHS such as Customs and Border Protection (which oversees our borders) and Transportation Security Administration (which handles security at airports).
Applications can only be made at USIS’s office located within an individual country’s embassy or consulate location, according to its website. However, there are times when applications need to be filed with other offices such as those located in Canada or Australia. The process for finding an overseas office varies depending on which country you are applying from:
“If your application is filed with another country’s office…”
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Green card holders are not required to pay taxes, rent or utilities in the United States. But they do have to follow certain rules set by USCIS to remain a legal resident.
Green Card Application Process
A Green Card is a document that certifies that you have been granted permission to live and work in the United States for a certain period of time, typically for a number of years. The process varies depending on whether you are applying for an immigrant visa or a nonimmigrant visa.
The Green Card application process is broken down into the following 5 steps:
• Apply at USCIS
• Submit the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
• Submit an I-94/I-94A/I-94D Arrival/Departure Record (which includes the Green Card)
• Submit a certified copy of your passport with the same name, date of birth and country of issuance as on your Green Card application.
• Pay any applicable fees. If you are married to someone who is already in the United States, your spouse and you must both submit the same forms. However, many couples can jointly apply for their spouse’s visa. Please check with your local USCIS office regarding how to do so. If you do not have any living dependents accompanying you when applying for a Green Card, please check with your local USCIS office regarding whether they require that dependents accompany you when applying for your Green Card (e.g., if there are children or other immediate family members).
If all goes well with this initial step, it should be carried out by persons who:
• Have U.S.-based employment authorization documents (Form I-766). For noncitizens without U.S.-based employment authorization documents, we may request additional supporting evidence at a later date (such as valid foreign passports).
• Pass background checks and background investigations conducted by competent agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or U.S.-based state or county law enforcement agencies (for example, if from another country or state).
• Have received prior approval from USCIS to be in the United States through another means (such as “green card” status based on marriage to someone already in the United States); however, this does not guarantee approval for all applicants; we may reject those cases where there is no record of prior approved status.
• Satisfy all other applicable requirements for either immigrant visas or non-immigrant visas requiring biometrics recognition . . . e.g., fingerprints from the government agency in charge of biometric security procedures; photo identification; documentation proving age; documentation proving employment authorization; etc., depending
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Pros and Cons of Being a Green Card Holder
The pros and cons of being a green card holder have been well documented and any new perspective on the subject is welcome.
A few weeks ago, I saw a video that summarized some of the key points in a very simple and straightforward way. The “Green Card 101” video from Zach Wiltz (@ZachWiltz) has received over 96K views and over 20K likes on Facebook. It is a great summary of the pros and cons of being a green card holder, but it misses one important point: the green card is not just about the status that comes with it, it’s about how you use it. Please read below for a more detailed explanation:
Green cards are issued by USCIS as proof that an individual has entered into permanent residency in the United States. A green card holder is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, USCIS grants a person a permanent resident card, commonly called a “green card.”
A temporary residence alien (also referred to as an “ex-felon” or “illegal alien”) who was never accorded lawful permanent residence by USCIS can apply for re-entry into the United States after leaving their country of legal residence using Form I-94W (Temporary Resident Card/Green Card). This form is used to enter or depart from the U.S., make changes to travel plans, obtain visas or enter into formal employment contracts in other countries without having to leave their country of legal residence first (for example if they are self-employed or have family members already living there).
Certain types of temporary resident status may be issued with other forms such as Form I-551 (Employment Authorization Document) which allows employees to temporarily cross between countries while their employment terminates, obtain visitor visas while outside the U.S., join family members already living lawfully in another country (most often for humanitarian reasons), or obtain asylum for oneself or for certain relatives or close friends who are considered potential refugees under international law.
Generally speaking, applicants for green cards must meet certain requirements based on their place of birth, whether they have an exceptional ability to support themselves financially upon entry into the United States, whether they speak English fluently; however, there are exceptions to these general rules which vary depending on whether they hold lawful permanent resident status prior to leaving their home countries or not depending on factors like how long they have resided legally in another country before entering the
There were two main problems with the Green Card:
1. It wasn’t easy to get one and wasn’t cheap (over $15k)
2. It had a lot of restrictions on it
One of the problems is that it was hard and expensive. The process required a lot of paperwork and a few documents, including:
• A green card application form, with supporting evidence that your permanent residency request has been approved by the USCIS. This form is called Form I-485, Application for Permanent Resident Card, Form I-765 to change status from immigrant or non-immigrant to lawful permanent resident, Form I-766 to change status from lawful permanent resident to citizen, and Forms I-797 and I-360 to change status from foreign student or temporary worker to lawful resident alien.
• A proof of good moral character (Form G10)
• Proof of basic income (Form G4), which can be either 1099 or W2 forms that show you have earned more than $200 per month for more than half the preceding tax year (or $400 per month for less than half the preceding tax year).
If you don’t have any income in those forms, you must file Form G4 with your Green Card application. If you do have income in those forms but want to check whether they are necessary proof, they can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/uac/G4-Proofs-of-Income#G4_-_Proof_of_Income_Forms_for_Flatrate_Employers.
• The Green Card Application Fee ($130) – This fee covers the cost of setting up your account with the USCIS so they will know who you are and what documents you want them to see before they approve your application; they will also send you periodic renewal notices to let you know when your card is expiring; if it expires without renewal notice being sent, you will need to reapply for a new card.
You may also be asked about any other fees that have been charged as part of this process; these fees are usually not directly related to filing an application but may result from processing applications that were submitted after an application’s filing deadline; however, some fees might apply if certain conditions were met at the time of filing – check with an immigration attorney if this applies. You can find more information on these fees at https://www.uscis.gov/