A permanent resident card commonly known as green card in the US is issued to foreign nationals by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. A green card authorizes the recipient to lawfully reside and engage in work inside the United States for an indefinite period of time. It is almost impossible to counterfeit a green card as it has holographic images and laser-engraved fingerprints. The earliest version of the permanent resident card was referred to as an alien registration receipt card which was first produced shortly after World War II.
Eligibility Requirements For Green Card
The criteria of eligibility for a green card encompasses several categories of people including spouses of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens, workers with extraordinary ability in a specialized field such as science, arts, education, business or athletics, immigrants with refugee status or who have been granted asylum for a least a year, foreign investors that have invested or are in the process of investing at least $1 million in commercial enterprise that has the potential to create full-time positions for at least 10 employees and investors who have invested or are investing $500,000 in a targeted employment area. Another avenue for obtaining a green card is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program commonly referred to as the green card lottery. This process uses a random drawing to grant 50,000 green cards every year to pre-screened applicants from countries that have a low rate of immigration to the U.S.
Process Of Applying For A Green Card
Legal immigrants already residing in the United States have to file a petition to have their current visa status changed in order to become a legal permanent resident or green card holder. There is a fixed number of immigrant visas that are issued to foreign nationals who desire to become lawful permanent residents of the US every year. However, this limit does not apply to immigrant visas for people classified as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. For people residing outside of the United States, they must apply for permanent legal residency at a US consulate in their country of residence. That particular process starts with an initial petition that leads to the assignment of an immigrant visa number and thus allows an applicant to move forward in the process. The processing time to obtain a green card may vary depending upon several factors but a ballpark timeline would be 6 months or more.The cost involved in applying for a green card runs a little over $1,000. This includes fees for adjustment of immigration status, collection of fingerprints and other biometric information that may be used for security checks.
The Benefits And Limitations Associated With Green Card In USA
Green card holders are allowed to live and work permanently in the United States as well as travel freely around the country. They can sponsor certain family members and even apply for their green cards. After spending a period of five years as a permanent resident, an immigrant can apply to become a US citizen. Green card holders are eligible for Social Security, retirement and tax benefits, insurance coverage as well as grants for research and education. They are also eligible to apply for financing of a house or car. The basic limitations are that green card holders are not allowed to run for elected office or vote in federal elections. They are also not allowed to serve on a jury.
Renewal Of Green Card
The validity of a green card is generally for a period of 10 years. Therefore the appropriate time period to apply for renewal of the green card is around 5 to 6 months from the expiration date of the card. Green card renewal applications must not be filed prior to 6 months from the expiration date as it is considered to be too early. Renewal applications that are filed too early may end up being rejected and returned to the applicant. However, the permanent resident status granted to an immigrant is not lost if the green card is not renewed. Nonetheless, the law does require all immigrants to hold valid permanent resident cards at all times. The cumulative fee charged for a green card renewal is $540 which includes an $85 biometrics fee and $455 application filing fee.
Fee waivers may also be granted to deserving applicants that do not afford the filing fee for the Form I-90 which is the application to replace permanent resident card. Applicants that desire a fee waiver can file Form I-912 which is a formal request for fee waiver along with the application for renewal of their green card. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS will take approximately 3 to 5 months to process and decide on the applications for renewal of a green card. However, this does not apply to erroneous applications. Errors made in applying for renewal of a green card can be costly and also result in protracted delays. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a seasoned immigration attorney in preparing the I-90 form so as to avoid mistakes or delays.
Avoiding The Green Card Renewal Process
If a green card or permanent resident card holder applies for US citizenship they may be able to avoid the green card renewal process. People who have been legal permanent residents for 5 years or more are generally eligible for U.S. citizenship. Therefore they can apply for US citizenship instead of applying for renewal of their green cards. US is valid for life and does not require the citizen to renew their citizenship every 10 years like with the green card.
Renewal Of A 2 Year Conditional Green Card
There are 2 types of green cards that are issued by USCIS. There is a 10 year renewable green card and the other is the two year conditional green card. The 10 year permanent resident cards have to be renewed every ten years, however two year conditional green cards are not renewable. However, holders of the 2 year conditional green card can apply to have the conditions removed on their card. A 10 year renewable card may potentially be renewed even after it’s expiration however this is not the case with conditional 2 year cards.
If you are a legal permanent resident and need to have your green card renewed or if you are an immigrant looking to apply for legal permanent resident status in the United States, it is advisable to contact an experienced and competent immigration attorney to help you navigate through this complex process.
At the law firm of Seglund Gabe Pawlak & Groth, PLC, our attorneys regularly deal with the common legal issues that Southeastern Michigan residents encounter on a day-to-day basis.