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What is a Green Card?

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  • Written By: Jane Harmon
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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A green card, also known as a greencard, is a document that identifies someone who is not a US citizen but has been given permission to live in the US permanently - it is also called a US Permanent Resident card. At one point, the green card was actually green, but, like the used-car guide known as the 'blue book', it has been various colors throughout the years. Today's green card is white.

The permanent resident non-citizen must carry his or her green card at all times since it may be necessary to prove that they are in the country legally. It can also be used to prove residency status when applying for work. Non-permanent resident aliens need an Employment Authorization Document to be legally hired by a US employer, but the holder of a green card has implicit employment authorization.

The green card is for many the first step on the road to naturalization and full US citizenship, and is highly sought after. The official green card has a number of anti-forgery features to prevent it from being easily duplicated. Getting a green card, or permanently immigrating to the US, can be a lengthy process, and not everyone can qualify for one. You can obtain a green card if you are closely related to a US citizen -- a spouse, parent, child or sibling. If you have a job offer within the US, it can help you qualify for immigration and permanent residency through employment.

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One unique qualification for permanent resident status and a green card is through investment. If you are willing to invest in creating a business in the US that will employ at least ten people, you may qualify for a green card. You will be required to prove you have the necessary capital for the enterprise, of course. If you are from a country with a low rate of immigration to the US, you may take part in a lottery that authorizes 50,000 permanent residency visas a year.

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anon325171
Post 5

My ex-wife married me to get residency in the U.S., and as soon as she got it, she divorced me. Is that legal?

momothree
Post 4

@carrotisland- In addition, there is an immigration and non-immigration visa. With the immigration visa, the person is allowed to, after some time; apply for a green card during their stay in the United States.

The non-immigration visa mandates that the person fulfill their reason for being in the United States and then leave. They could be here for work, family matters, or any other temporary business.

chrisinbama
Post 2

@carrotisland- There are a couple of differences in a green card and a visa. A visa gives someone the right to enter the U.S. A green card allows them permanent residency in the U.S.

There are a few different types of visas. There are business, fiancé, and tourist visas. A visa allows you a certain amount of time to be in the United States. It is only temporary.

The green card gives the individual a permanent home in the United States. However, the green card must be renewed after a period of ten years. It is a serious offense to be in the U.S. with an expired green card. Green card renewal is absolutely necessary.

CarrotIsland
Post 1

I'm a little confused on the whole green card topic. What exactly is the difference in a green card and a visa?

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