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Permanent Resident






An alien admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident aka Green Card holder, who is accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States. As proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a "Green Card."


The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) broadly defines an immigrant as any alien in the United States (except those admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories, INA section 101(a)(15)). An alien who entered the United States without inspection and proper documentation would be strictly defined as an immigrant under the INA.  Therefore, both a lawful permanent resident and an undocumented alien are immigrants under the INA.


They may be issued immigrant visas by the Department of State overseas or adjusted to permanent resident status by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States.


A Permanent Resident enjoys most of the rights of a United States citizen according to the immigration law and regulations, such as:

·      Live permanently in the United States provided, with possible deportation for any deportable actions under the immigration law (section 237, Immigration and Nationality Act)

·      Employable in the United States at any work, except those jobs limited to United States citizens because of security concerns.

·      Protection under the laws of the United States, state of residence and local jurisdictions.

·      Vote in local elections where United States citizenship is not required.


Individuals who want to become immigrants (permanent residents) through their qualified family member, a job offer or employment, or a special category will generally be classified in categories based on a preference system. Except for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen who are given the highest immigration priority and a few other exceptions, Congress has set a finite number of visas that can be used each year for each category of immigrants. The steps to becoming a Green Card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States.


The main categories are:

·      Green Card Through Family: Many people get Green Cards (become permanent residents)

through family members. You may be eligible to get a Green Card as

                an immediate relative of a U.S. citizenthis includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older

                  a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference categorythis includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older

                  a family member of a green card holderthis includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring green card holder

                  a member of a special categorythis can include battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K nonimmigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen


·      Green Card Through a Job: The main ways to immigrate based on a job offer or employment are listed below:

                  Green Card Through a Job Offer: You may be eligible to become a permanent resident based on an offer of permanent employment in the United States. Most categories require an employer to get a labor certification and then file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for you.

                  Green Card Through Investment: Green cards may be available to investors/entrepreneurs who are making an investment in an enterprise that creates new U.S. jobs.

                  Green Card Through Self Petition: Some immigrant categories allow you to file for yourself (“self-petition”). This option is available for either “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” or certain individuals granted a National Interest Waiver.

                  Green Card Through Special Categories of Jobs: There are a number of specialized jobs that may allow you to get a green card based on a past or current job

·      Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status: Refugees and asylees can apply for a green card,  after 1 year after being admitted to the United States.


·      Other Ways to Get a Green Card:  a Green Card (permanent residence) can be obtained  such as the:

                  Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (referred to by many as the 'Green Card Lottery')

                  K Nonimmigrant (includes fiancé(e))

                  Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act

                  Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) Status


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