Green Card Definition

A Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card or alien registration card, is a card issued by USCIS to foreign nationals as evidence of their lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

While some Green Cards do not have an expiration date, most are valid for 10 years, and for Conditional permanent residents they are valid for two years. After this period, the card must be renewed or replaced. To renew or replace a Permanent Resident Card please complete Form I-90 Green Card Renewal .

The permanent resident card is informally known as Green Card because of its green design, introduced in 2010 (the card was also green from 1946 until 1964). The green card may also refer to the immigration process of becoming a permanent resident. The green card serves as proof that its holder, a lawful permanent resident (LPR), islawfully living in the U.S. permanently under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant.

Green cards were formerly issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). until it ceased to exist on March 1, 2003. Now they are issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is a government agency that handles applications for immigration benefits.

All Permanent Residents are required to carry their Green Card with them at all times. Failing to do so is considered a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and is punishable by law with a fine up to $100 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days for each offense.

A lawful permanent resident can apply for United States citizenship, or naturalization, after five years of residency, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen. Lawful permanent residents may submit their applications for naturalization as early as 90 days before meeting the residency requirement.

Green Card Lottery

The Green Card Lottery also known as Diversity Visa (DV) Program, issues each year, around 50,000 immigrant visas to people who were born in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States (fewer than 50,000 immigrants in the past five years). Applicants who are selected under this lottery program will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. They can also file for their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21. Winners of the Green Card Lottery will be given lawful permanent resident status and will be able to live and work permanently in the United States.

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