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What does it mean to have a green card?

You may think you know what it means to have a green card, but are you really aware of the benefits and limitations of a green card? Here's what it really means to have a green card.

What Are The Advantages Of Having A Green Card?

Benefits of having a green card include:

  • The ability to re-enter the U.S. after travel without being denied
  • The opportunity to receive government financial aid for college
  • The ability to enjoy in-state tuition rates at public universities
  • The opportunity to work for an employer without obtaining sponsorship from your employer
  • Social security benefits upon retirement, as long as you worked in the U.S. for 10 years
  • Eligibility to sponsor your minor children and spouse for permanent residence

How Can You Get A Green Card?

If you have an immediate family member who is a permanent resident, you are eligible to apply and will receive priority consideration. If you don't have an immediate family member, you must compete with others for a visa slot. These are limited, and applicants receive visas based on preference. If you are a scientific researcher, you will receive a visa ahead of an entrepreneur, for example.

Once you confirm your eligibility, select the right application based on your situation. Then you or your qualifying relative will complete the appropriate paperwork and pay the filing fee. The hard part comes next: Waiting to hear if you're approved.

Green Card Warnings

Even if you get a green card, it is possible to have it taken away or revoked.

  • Green card holders are not allowed to vote in U.S. elections, or serve on juries. If a well-intentioned person tries to register you to vote, your best course of action is to decline the offer. Showing up at the polls could get you deported.
  • Green card holders must also report any changes of address within 10 days by completing the AR-11 Form in paper or online. If you aren't timely in reporting a change of address, you place your right to remain at risk.
  • At any time, the government may demand proof that you pay taxes, work in the U.S., buy or rent a home, and otherwise live full-time in the U.S. You cannot live outside the U.S. for longer than 6 months without getting a re-entry permit first.
  • If you defrauded the government to get your green card, your privileges could be revoked. An obvious example is a sham marriage undertaken for a green card.
  • Finally, if you commit a felony you could be deported.

If you need more information about applying for a green card or maintaining your status as a permanent legal resident, talk with an immigration attorney.

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