-> This article is part of Documented’s Glossary. We want to make it easier to understand the U.S. immigration system. If you want to know more about different visa types and immigration terms, please check our library here.
-> To find useful information for immigrants, such as where to find free food or legal representation, check out our master resource guide.
A green card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a physical card that shows that an individual is a permanent resident of the United States and can work and travel anywhere within the U.S. They stay valid for ten years, unless an individual has been granted conditional resident status — in that case, the card is valid for two years.
Individuals who have permanent residency status can also apply for citizenship after three years if they obtained their legal status through marriage (also known as the three-year-rule), and after five years in other cases.
Note: The term “green card” derives from the color of the first physical card used to prove legal residency following World War II, after congress enacted the Alien Registration Act of 1940.
Eligibility and Process:
There are different types that an individual can apply for, such as family-based, employment-based, humanitarian and through a green card lottery. All the eligible categories are in USCIS’s website.
The process for applying also depends if an individual is inside or outside the U.S. For more information you can visit this link.