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Waiting for a Green Card: Everything You Need to Know

With over a million immigrants flocking to America for a chance at a better life, it is essential to know that a Visa might not be enough to fulfil the American Dream. To reap the benefits of living in the United States, one needs to show proof of permanent residency. Usually, visas are temporary and violations of particular visa rules can get you deported back to your country of origin. On the other hand, Green cards allow you to work and live in the country permanently.

If you want to become a permanent member of this country and live the American Dream, you need to go through the list we have compiled below regarding rules and regulations surrounding the Green cards.

What are Green Cards?

Before we get to know about the dos and don’ts during the waiting period for a green card, we must first know, what is a green card? A Green Card allows permanent residency to a non-US citizen. Green card holders can lawfully work and stay in any part of the United States. Having a green card means that the individual can qualify for US citizenship after a specified number of years.

Some green cards may have a conditional status that the new recipient will have to live their life and abide by certain laws for a particular period to gain normal residency in the country. The government can revoke your green card if the conditions are not satisfied. While green cards provide permanent residency, some of the green cards will need to get renewed every few years.

Difference Between A Green Card and A Visa:

  • While visas need to be obtained before one travels to the United States, green cards can be obtained only after the arrival in the country.

  • Green cards offer a permanent residency, while the validity of the visas varies and depends on the purpose of visiting the country.

  • While visas are mostly represented by a stamp on the passport, a green card is a physical card that represents the right of the holder to work anywhere in the US and to live there permanently.

  • After a particular period, green card holders can apply for US citizenship, but no such thing can be done through a visa.

  • Visa holders will have to apply for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before they are allowed to work in the US, while the green card itself offers the right to do so.

Different Categories of Green Cards:

  • Employment-based green cards

Some people are eligible for green cards based on their nature of employment. The expertise required for some of the jobs in the US makes them an invaluable part of the community. This in turn helps them get green cards. However, only 140,000 green cards can be awarded in this category. To make life easier for the individual, 480,000 more cards are reserved for the family members of individuals in this category.

  • Green card lottery

To keep the population of America diverse, there is a yearly lottery where green cards are awarded to individuals from certain ethnic groups and eligible countries. To take part in this, one has to apply online. One can hit the jackpot and become a green card holder even without fulfilling all eligibility criteria. However, the total number of green cards that are issued through the lottery method is capped at 50,000.

  • Asylum seekers and refugees

To be eligible to receive a green card in this category, the individual first needs to be categorized as an asylee or a refugee. While there are no such restrictions on the number of green cards awarded to people in need, only a certain number of refugees are allowed to enter the US under this category.

  • Immediate relatives of US citizens

If the individual relative of the US citizen is a spouse, a parent, or an unmarried child below the age of 21, then they are also granted a green card. There are no limits to the green cards that can be issued under this category.

Things to Take Care of While Your Green Card Request Is Being Processed:

If one decides to leave the United States during the processing period of their applications without permission from the USCIS, then it is considered an abandonment of your application. However, you can seek permission to leave the country while your application is pending, which is known as an Advance Parole. The Advance Parole is good for one single exit and reentry into the United States. Otherwise, one would have to wait until they have an approval on their application to leave the country.. The individuals can check the status of their application online by entering their receipt number or calling USCIS.

In Conclusion:

The applications received for green cards are always more than the number of green cards which can be issued in that year. Tons of background checks need to be done before the government can grant you permanent residency. It is uncertain how long the process of issuing the green card can take. It all depends upon the office of USCIS and how fast they can get the verifications done, and some might need to wait longer than others. One only needs to exercise patience and never give up on their American Dream.

About Reyes & Schroeder Associates, P.C.:

Reyes & Schroeder Associates specializes in Immigration, Criminal, Family, Small Business and Intellectual Property legal matters. We pride ourselves on offering our clients the very best advice in these specific areas of law. We are personally dedicated to preserving the continued prosperity of our clients, equipping real people in our local communities with the education and representation necessary to survive the complexities of today's ever-evolving legal process. The attorneys at Reyes & Schroeder bring an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience to your case. We fight hard for you each and every day, so that you can sleep easy at night.


Phone- (323) 553-1541

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