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US Immigration Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Green Card?
How do I obtain a Green Card?

A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is evidence of your status as a lawful permanent resident with a right to live and work permanently in the United States. There is NO time restriction as long as the holder is a permanent resident in the USA.

There are several ways you can obtain a Green Card, including:
- Marriage to a United States citizen
- Investment
- Employment
- As a Special Immigrant
- Green Card Lottery (Diversity Immigrant Visa Program)

How to obtain a Green Card by Marriage to a United States citizen.

Each year thousands of American citizens marry foreign-born persons and petition for them to obtain permanent residence in the United States. Spouses of U.S. citizens are considered "immediate relatives" under the immigration laws and are exempt from all numerical quota limitations.

You can also obtain a Green Card through the Green Card Lottery, Investment, Employment or as a Special Immigrant.

A U.S. citizen is one step further than a U.S. permanent resident. It is one step beyond a green card holder. Citizenship gives you the maximum rights available in the United States. US citizens may also find it advantageous to use a U.S. passport when traveling abroad.

Advantages of US Citizenship

Citizens have much greater ability to sponsor relatives for U.S. immigration. Many government contracts and jobs require U.S. citizenship. One cannot get a voting card without becoming a citizen. Click here to request a US Citizenship Information Kit.

  • A citizen does not generally have to reside in the U.S. By contrast, green card holders can have their green cards cards revoked if they fail to reside in the U.S. If you become naturalized you do not have to worry about replacing your green card with newer versions. For example, the INS announced the expiration of the old Green Card forms I-551. All people in possession of the card had to apply for replacement with a secure, machine-readable Alien Registration Receipt Card. Citizens do not have to do this.
  • Only American citizens can obtain a U.S. passports.
  • Entering the United States is easier.
  • Many countries waive visa requirements for U.S. passport holders.
    With a U.S. passport, you are eligible for U.S. citizen services from U.S. embassies and consulates when traveling throughout the world.
  • U.S. citizens do not have to carry proof of citizenship. On the other hand, INS feels that permanent residents must always carry their green cards. INS has detained permanent residents who forgot to carry their cards.
  • Ability to vote. (Politicians listen to people who can vote.)
  • Immigrate other family members to the United States
  • Prevent risk of deportation. A non-citizen can be deported for a convicted crime while a citizen can not be deported.
  • Eligibility for state and federal jobs.
  • Ability to live outside of the U.S. and never lose citizenship.
  • The right to run for public office.
  • No paperwork of renewing their certificates of naturalization.
  • With a U.S. passport, you are eligible for U.S. citizen services from U.S. embassies and consulates when traveling throughout the world.

Finally, there are intangible benefits. Most green card holders have decided that the United States will be the permanent home for their families. They find it of psychological benefit to be on equal footing with their American peers. This is important for school age children who are very much concerned with their identity.



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