How the Green Card works
Would you like to immigrate to the USA permanently? Between the immigrant visa application, the work permit and the Green Card lottery, there are many ways, some more difficult than others, to help you realize your American dream.
The green card can be obtained in different ways, depending on your situation (if you are already working in the USA, if you already have a visa, if you have a family member who is an American citizen, etc.).
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What is a Green Card for the United States?
Unlike ESTA or visas, the Green Card is a permanent resident card valid in the United States. It’s an identification document issued by USCIS (the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service) that functions like an ID card.
This green card allows non-American nationals to immigrate, settle and work legally on American soil, as well as to complete an internship or study at an American university, without having to apply for a specific USA visa at the American embassy.
Obtaining a Green Card offers virtually the same benefits, rights and duties as an average American citizen, with the exception of the right to vote. A resident with a green card will, however, never be called as a juror at a trial. Unlike US citizens, Green Card holders can be deported from the USA.
It is a permanent residency card that allows you to stay in the U.S., but does not entitle you to U.S. citizenship. Its owner is subject to US laws and taxes, but is not considered a US citizen. To pass this stage, you need to apply for naturalization. However, this request can only be made after the card has been in use for at least five years.
Green Card holders must carry their Green Card with them at all times in the event of a police check or to verify the legality of their stay.
Obtaining a Green Card to live in the USA
There are several ways to obtain a USA Green Card. The 5 main options are :
- Family sponsorship: U.S. citizens over the age of 21 may sponsor the green card applications of their spouse, parents and children, or adult siblings. By marrying a U.S. citizen. Note, however, that this specific green card is only valid for two years, to avoid sham marriages. If the marriage is still active after these two years, the person holding the green card can renew it for a further 10 years.
- sponsorship by your employer: you can obtain a green card through your employer, but it’s up to him or her to take the initiative in getting you the coveted green card. Certain other profiles, such as artists, sportsmen and women or renowned scientists, may be eligible for the Green Card. Foreign investors may also be eligible, once they have injected a substantial sum into a company.
- enter the Green Card lottery: the Green Card lottery is probably the easiest way to apply, although only a small percentage of entrants go home with a Green Card. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you can work in the USA thanks to the American lottery. If your country of origin is the UK, Mexico or Canada, you are not currently eligible for a diversity visa.
- for political reasons: people with political refugee status or asylum seekers can also obtain a Green Card under certain conditions.
Once obtained, a Green Card is valid for life, subject to certain conditions, and must be renewed every 10 years.