The Complete Process Of How to Get An American Green Card
8 mins read

The Complete Process Of How to Get An American Green Card

Spread the love

The process of obtaining a Permanent Resident Card or as it is popularly called an American Green Card in the United States can be complex and very depending on your eligibility category. 

There are several processes to obtain a green card in the United States, each with its pros and cons. Some of the most common processes include;

1. Family-Based Immigration

This process allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to obtain a green card. The immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, and parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.

Family Sponsorship

  • Eligibility: This is the most common route for obtaining a Green Card. You can be sponsored by a spouse, parent (if you’re a child over 21), or adult child (if you’re a U.S. citizen). Other family members may also qualify under specific circumstances.
  • Pros: This category generally offers faster processing times compared to others.
  • Cons: Sponsorship creates a legal tie to your sponsor, and their actions can impact your immigration status. Waiting times can vary significantly depending on the category and current visa backlog.

2. Employment-Based Immigration

This process allows foreign workers with specific skills or education to obtain a green card. There are five preference categories for employment-based immigration, each with its requirements.

Employment-Based Sponsorship

  • Eligibility: This category is for individuals with skills or qualifications sought after by U.S. employers. It has various subcategories based on skill level and job type.
  • Pros: Provides a path to permanent residency through desired work experience.
  • Cons: The process can be complex and requires employer sponsorship, which can be challenging to secure. Backlogs can be significant in certain categories.

3. Refugee or Asylum Status

This process allows individuals who have been persecuted or fear persecution in their home country to obtain a green card.

Special Immigrant Visas

  • Eligibility: This category caters to specific groups, such as religious workers, refugees, and victims of human trafficking.
  • Pros: Offers a path to permanent residency for qualifying individuals facing unique circumstances.
  • Cons: Eligibility requirements can be strict and vary depending on the specific program.

Also read: Top 10 Best Airlines In The World

4. Diversity Visa Program

This program allows individuals from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. to obtain a green card through a lottery system.

The Diversity Visa Lottery (DV Lottery)

  • Eligibility: This lottery program offers a limited number of Green Cards annually to individuals from countries with historically low immigration rates to the U.S.
  • Pros: Relatively simple application process and low cost.
  • Cons: Highly competitive with very low chances of winning (around 1 in 20).

5. Investment-Based Immigration 

This process allows foreign investors to obtain a green card by investing a certain amount of money in a U.S. business.


  • Eligibility: This category is for individuals who invest a significant amount of capital (currently $900,000 in certain rural areas, or $1.8 million elsewhere) in a U.S. business that creates jobs.
  • Pros: Quicker processing times compared to other categories.
  • Cons: Requires a substantial financial investment and carries inherent business risks.

The Pros of having a green card include

A green card is like a golden ticket for living and working in the United States. Here’s why:

1. Permanent Residence: With a green card, you can call the U.S. your permanent home. You can work and live there indefinitely, regardless of any changes in immigration laws.

2. Path to Citizenship: After a few years, you can apply for U.S. citizenship. If you’re married to a U.S. citizen, it’s three years; otherwise, it’s five years.

3. No Fear of Deportation: Once you have a green card, you’re safe from being deported to your home country, except if you commit serious crimes or violate laws.

4. Legal Protections: You’re entitled to the same legal protections as U.S. citizens under federal, state, and local laws.

5. Family Sponsorship: You can sponsor certain family members for their green cards too, though not with the same priority as U.S. citizens.

6. Renewable Every 10 Years: Your green card is renewable every 10 years, so you can stay in the U.S. without worries.

7. Easy Travel: You can travel in and out of the U.S. more freely than other visa holders. As long as you return within 12 months, you’re good to go.

8. Freedom to Live Anywhere: You’re not restricted by state borders and don’t need to report your whereabouts to the government.

9. Access to Federal Benefits: You can apply for federal benefits like social security and education assistance, as well as enjoy in-state tuition rates at some colleges and universities.

10. More Job Opportunities: With a green card, you can apply for a wider range of jobs, including those requiring security clearances or government work.

11. Engagement in Politics: You can participate in the political process by contributing financially or volunteering for candidates in U.S. elections.

American Green Card 2

The Cons of having a green card include:

Even though green card holders can live and work in the United States and enjoy many of the same benefits as citizens, it’s important to know they don’t have all the same rights. Here are some differences:

1.  Can be deported if certain conditions are not met

2.  Family Sponsorship Priority: While you can sponsor family members for green cards, your priority isn’t as high as that of U.S. citizens.

3.  Renewal Requirement: Green cards need to be renewed every 10 years.

4.  Non-Transferrable: Green cards can’t be transferred to others, and they aren’t automatically given to children born outside the U.S.

5.  No U.S. Passport: You don’t get a U.S. passport; instead, you use your green card for travel.

6.  Worldwide income tax and reporting: Just like U.S. citizens, US tax follows you abroad. Green card holders must file their income taxes with the IRS and state tax authorities.

7.  Expatriation and Exit Taxes: If you leave the U.S. permanently after 8 years or more, you may face expatriation and exit taxes, similar to those renouncing their citizenship.

8.  Carrying Your Green Card: Always keep your green card with you. Not having it can get you in trouble, possibly leading to up to 30 days in jail.

9.  No Voting Rights: Green card holders can’t vote in U.S. elections.

10.  No Political Office: Green card holders can’t run for political office in the U.S.

Green Card Holder’s Responsibilities

When you have a green card, you have certain duties as a legal resident of the United States. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Following Laws: It’s important to obey all the laws of the United States, as well as those of your state and local area.

2. Selective Service Registration: If you’re a male green card holder aged 18 to 25, you need to register for the Selective Service, although there hasn’t been a draft since 1973.

3. No Illegal Activities: Just like citizens, green card holders can’t try to change the government by illegal means.

5. Deportation Risk: While they’re generally protected from deportation if immigration laws change, it’s not guaranteed.

The process of obtaining a green card can be complex and may require the assistance of an immigration attorney. It is essential to carefully consider the pros and cons of each process and consult with an expert before making a decision.

For further information and detailed guidance, I recommend visiting the official USCIS website ( or seeking professional legal advice.

Continue reading: Top 12 Countries with Citizenship by Investment Programs

Leave a Reply