In the U.S., a Green Card is a permanent resident card allowing the holder to stay and work permanently within the United States. There exist several paths to obtaining a U.S. Green Card, though the process varies depending upon the path chosen:
- Employer Sponsorship: A U.S. employer may sponsor a U.S. Green Card application for resident aliens already employed by the sponsor, or even for a prospective employee not yet in the United States. Obtaining an employment-based U.S. Green Card can be a frustrating process that generally takes several years to obtain. For more information, use the link to access The U.S. Department of Homeland Security web page for Obtaining A U.S. Green Card Through A Job.
- U.S. Family Member Sponsorship: A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States may be able to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the U.S., so long as the sponsor is willing. The U.S. government grants preference to applications from "immediate" family members. For more information, use the link to access The U.S. Department of Homeland Security web page for Obtaining A U.S. Green Card For A Family Member.
- Entrepreneur Sponsorship: Entrepreneurs who make an investment in a U.S. commercial enterprise who plan to create or preserve 10 or more full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers, and their spouses and young, unmarried children, are eligible to apply for a U.S. Green Card. For more information, use the link to access The U.S. Department of Homeland Security web page for Obtaining A U.S. Green Card Through Investment.
- Diversity Lottery: Every year, the U.S. government makes up to 50,000 U.S. Green Cards available, with applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States drawn at random. For more information, use the link to access The U.S. Department of Homeland Security web page for The Diversity Lottery Program.
Holders of a U.S. Green Card enjoy many benefits:
- Ability to leave and enter the United States at will: U.S. Green Card holders can enter and leave without any risk of being denied entry at any U.S. port of entry.
- Legal ownership of U.S. property: U.S. Green Card holders can purchase land, vehicles, firearms and other items that a natural-born U.S. citizen can purchase.
- Permission to work freely: With some exception, U.S. Green Card holders have permission to work in any company anywhere in the United States whether part-time or full-time, and for any job type. In fact, holding a U.S. Green Card opens up additional job opportunities to the holder, such as government job requiring security clearance.
- Entrepreneurship: U.S. Green Card holders can start businesses and create corporate entities. Holders can apply for professional licenses in states where they reside.
- Ability to apply for financial aid: U.S. Green Card holders can apply for government-sponsored education aid, and are eligible for "in-state" tuition rates.
- Government benefits: U.S. Green Card holders are entitled to federal Social Security benefits upon retiring if s/he worked in the United States for 10 years before retiring. Holders may also apply for other state benefits, such as unemployment benefits.
- Sponsorship: U.S. Green Card holders can sponsor spouses and unmarried children under 21 for permanent residency who may retain the status if the holder becomes unemployed or passes away.
- Participation in politics: U.S. Green Card holders can contribute to political campaigns on the local, state and federal levels.
*Gene Berardelli may be contacted at: GeneBerardelli@ipglegal.com.
Gene is a New York street-smart attorney with an extreme passion for success. Gene specializes in litigation, arbitration and general corporate law for New York-based and international clients. He, also, is the host of a popular New York talk radio program.