Lawful Permanent Residence ("Green Card")
This page provides you with information and directions necessary to apply for lawful permanent residence (LPR), or "green cards". A "green card" gives you official immigration status (Lawful Permanent Residency) in the United states.
There are two main ways to obtain your residence.
- Through a Family Member
- Through Employment
How Do I Become a Permanent Resident While in the United States?
An immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. You must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. In most cases, USCIS must first approve an immigrant petition for you, usually filed by an employer or relative. Then, an immigrant visa number must be available to you, even if you are already in the United States. After that, if you are already in the United States, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status (If you are outside the United States, you will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.)
What are the eligibility requirements for getting a Permanent Resident Card? A. Lawful permanent residence is based upon various immigrant classifications.
An immigrant is someone who is not a U.S. citizen but has been authorized to permanently live and work in the United States. If you want to become an immigrant, you must go through a three-step process.
Some of you came to the United States as immigrants through a relative or through an employer. Some of you came as refugees or were given asylum status. And some of you came through other programs, like the Diversity Visa Lottery. But now that you are Permanent Residents you all share the same status. You have certain rights and certain responsibilities as Permanent Residents. This document will give you a general idea of what those rights and responsibilities are and some other useful information related to your immigration status as a Permanent Resident.
Some of you may be CONDITIONAL RESIDENTS. This page applies equally to you while you are in conditional resident status. The difference between you and an unconditioned permanent resident is that your permanent resident status will expire in two years from when it was given, unless you successfully petition to have the condition removed. Those of you with conditional permanent residence either received your residence through a marriage relationship where the marriage was less than two years old at the time you became a Permanent Resident, or you received that status through an investment as an employment creation immigrant (EB-5). If you successfully petition for removal of the condition on your immigration status, this page will still apply to you as a Permanent Resident.
Rights As a Permanent Resident you have most of the rights of a United States Citizen but there are some exceptions.
Rights To live permanently in the United States provided you do not commit any actions that would make you removable (deportable) under the immigration law (section 237, Immigration and Nationality Act).
To be employed in the United States at any legal work of your qualification and choosing.
To be protected by all of the laws of the United States, your state of residence and local jurisdictions.
Exceptions Some jobs will be limited to United States Citizens because of security concerns.
Responsibilities You are required to obey all of the laws of the United States, the States, and localities. You are required to file your income tax returns and report your income to the US Internal Revenue Service and State IRS. You are expected to support the democratic form of government and cannot attempt to change the government through illegal means. If you are a male, age 18 through 25, you are required to register with the Selective Service.
A Permanent Resident of the United States can travel freely outside of the US. A passport from the country of citizenship is normally all that is needed. To reenter the US a Permanent Resident normally needs to present the green card (Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551) for readmission. A reentry permit is needed for reentry for trips greater than one year but less than two years in duration.
You may lose your permanent residence status if you commit an act that makes you removable from the United States under the law in section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you commit such an act, you may be brought before the immigration courts to determine your right to remain a Permanent Resident.
You may be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status if you:
Remain outside of the US for more than one year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa. However in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the US may be considered, even if it is less than one year.
Remain outside of the US for more than two years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa. However in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the US may be considered, even if it is less than one year.
Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the US for any period.
Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your tax returns