What is a Green Card?

What is a Green Card?

A green card is basically an authorization document that allows you to live and work freely in the USA and enjoy the same benefits and privileges as any other citizen of USA. It also gives you the option to qualify for USA citizenship after three to five years depending on the circumstances and regulations of the USA government. A green card allows even a person who is of a non-USA origin to gain permanent residence in the USA. 

Who is Eligible for a Green Card? 

Every year the USA government issues many green cards and a majority of these recipients of green cards are issued to family members such as spouse and children of USA citizens and workers seeking employment in the USA.

If you fall into one or more of the categories below you are eligible to apply for a green card for permanent residence in the USA:

  • If you have a spouse or child/children who are citizens of the USA
  • If you have a family member who is a green card holder
  • If you are a refugee or asylum seeker
  • If you have a special immigrant status
  • If you are a religious worker
  • If you are an investor
  • If you have a job offer from a U.S. employer
  • If you are a student
  • If you are a member of the military
  • If you are a national of a country with a special relationship with the United States

How much does a green card cost?

Depending on where you are applying for a green card, the rates may differ. For an applicant who is currently in the United States and applying for a family based green card the fee is around $1,760 but for a person living outside the USA the cost for filing is around $1,200. Additional costs such as medical exam fees may be incurred. You can check the latest rates from the official USA immigration site. 

Categories of green cards 

There are different categories of green cards, and this categorization takes into account several factors such as eligibility criteria and so on. Let us take a look at the most common categories of green cards below.

  • Family based green cards- Close relatives of U.S. citizens and current green card holders may apply for family-based green cards of their own. Eligible family members include spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Widows and widowers married to a USA citizen at the time of death can also apply for a green card within this category. Generally, extended family members like aunts, uncles, grandparents do not qualify under the family based green card scheme unless they have a closer relative who is a USA citizen or is a current green card holder. 
  • Employment based green card- Workers who fall into a specified employment category can apply for green cards in the USA. In some cases, their close family members like spouses and children too can apply for green cards under this category. The employment-based subcategories qualifying for employment based green card application schemes are priority workers, investors, physicians, Professionals with advanced degrees and exceptional abilities, Skilled, unskilled, and professional workers and special workers. 
  • Humanitarian green cards- These green cards are those offered to people based on human grounds and the most common subcategories are green cards offered to crime victims, abuse victims, refugees and asylees and victims of human trafficking. 
  • Longtime resident green card- This is a special type of green type category that is offered to people who have lived in the USA for a long time. Generally, those who have lived in the USA either lawfully or unlawfully since 1972 can apply for this type of green cards subject to meeting certain specified terms and conditions laid down by the USA government. 

Is the Green Card Renewable or not?

The USA green card is a renewable document that has to be renewed every ten years. You must initiate the renewal process no later than 6 months prior to the expiration of the Green Card via USCIS Form I-90. 

FAQs about the USA Green Card 

1. Will you need an AED/ work permit after getting your green card?

After getting your green card, you will no longer require a work permit or AED. The green card would suffice for your employment.

2. Can you work in the USA before getting your green card?

Yes, you can work in the USA as long as you have a work permit even though you have no green card.

3. Can your green card application be denied due to the lack of financial resources?

Yes, it can be denied for failure to meet certain income limits. If the USA government feels that you will be a public charge due to lack of financial resources, your application may be denied.

4. Do I need to pass a medical test to receive my green card?

Yes, a medical exam has to be performed from a government approved doctor and you need to pass it to move along the green card application process.

5. Can I apply for a green card while living outside the USA?

Yes, it is possible to apply for a green card while living outside the USA.


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