What is a Green Card?
A green card is what is formally referred to as a permanent residency card. It is an identification card granted to individuals to prove that they have officially been given permission to permanently work and live in the United States and receive immigrant benefits. Green card holders are considered immigrants and may eventually become eligible for naturalization through a number of methods. The process for obtaining a green card varies by which immigration eligibility category you fall under.
Green Card Eligibility
There are a few conditions that have to be met for an individual to have green card eligibility. First, the person must be eligible for an immigrant category. These categories include family-based immigration (parents, spouse, or unmarried children of a citizen), employment-based immigration (through employment or a job offer), refugee or asylum status, and other special categories and programs. In addition to being eligible for one of these categories, the person must have an approved immigration petition filed (with a few exceptions) and have an immigrant visa immediately available. The number of visas granted annually is limited so the person may have to wait until one becomes available. If the person is in the family or employment based immigration categories, there are a number of factors that will determine your priority in receiving a visa such as relation, job type, or country of origin. Lastly, an individual must be considered admissible into the United States in order to be eligible for a green card. Inadmissibility may be decided on health issues, criminal background, or security concerns. If you are deemed inadmissible, you may apply for the 1-601 waiver, the Application Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility.
Process for Applying for a Green Card
Once the above criteria has been met, the process of applying for a green card can be initiated. This process will differ depending on whether or not an individual already lives in the United States. If a person is already in the United States, they will go through the adjustment of status process. If they are applying from outside of the United States, they will go through consular processing. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) may be required in order to start working and in most cases, immigrants will need to complete a medical examination by a physician designated by the USCIS or U.S. Department of State.