What Exactly Is a Green Card Visa?

A green card visa is a United States Permanent Resident Card issued to an immigrant who is authorized to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. They are informally known as green cards because they were green from 1946 until 1964; recently, they have become green again. These cards allow foreign nationals to become a part of the American dream, and are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are many paths to obtaining a green card.

Schengen Visa Countries List

Ways to Get a Green Card Visa

A person from another country may obtain permanent Unites States resident status through a family member or employment. They may also use the Eb5 Visa Program by investing more than $500,000 in the United States and creating at least ten jobs. With this Immigrant Investor Visa, foreign nationals and their significant other, as well as their unmarried children, can attain permanent U.S. residency. Immigrants may also get a visa from the Diversity Lottery, or through refugee or asylum status.

The Application Process

To apply for a Green Card Visa, an immigrant must file a petition through a qualifying relative or employer. There are a limited number of visas available each year, and there are additional limitations placed upon certain countries. Therefore, unless the immigrant has an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, there can be a lengthy waiting process that can take up to several years just to receive an immigration visa number. Once a visa number is received, the applicant can adjust their status to permanent resident.

The Green Card Lottery

Every year there are 50,000 immigrant visas available in what is known as the Green Card Lottery. This option is available to people born in countries that have less than 50,000 immigrants into the United States within the last five years. Anyone chosen by the lottery can also file permanent residency for their spouse and any unmarried children under 21. There are more than 10 million applicants a year for the Diversity Immigration Visa Green Card Lottery. Because this lottery is so popular, there are also many scams claiming to increase the chances for winning the lottery.

Conditional Permanent Residence

People who qualify for a green card visa based on investment or recent marriage to a U.S. citizen are granted a conditional permanent residency for two years. When the two-year probation period expires, the applicant must file a form to have the conditions removed. At this point, residency is granted in one-year increments until the application is eventually rejected or approved. For a marriage, proof that the union is not fraudulent is required. Birth certificates, financial records and letters of reference can be used to prove this.

Information on applications and eligibility requirements are available on the USCIS and the Department of State websites. In addition, illegal immigrants who have been in the United States since before January 1, 1972 are eligible for greencard visa status. However, they must have no ties to terrorist activities, not be involved in certain criminal activities, and must be of upstanding moral character to qualify.

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