Commonly used immigration procedures to enter the United States are through a visa, being sponsored by relatives for a greencard (permanent resident card) or obtaining a greencard through one’s own eligibility. A greencard is a proof of being legally granted immigration benefits to live and work in the United States. You can get a greencard while you are in the US or even when you are outside the US. If you get a greencard while being present in the US physically, it is called adjustment of status. Whereas if you get a greencard while you are outside the US or when you are ineligible to adjust status, the process is called consular processing. You can enter the US through an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. Non-immigrant visas are for temporary visits to the U.S. for tourism, study, or work. Immigrant visas allow for Permanent Residence in the U.S.
Once you enter the US on a visa, you can then adjust your status to a green card holder (permanent resident) subject to eligibility conditions for certain visa holders. There are many ways to get permanent resident status. Your family member, as a US citizen or a green card holder can sponsor you for a greencard. You can also get one through the DV (Diversity Visa) lottery program that is held every year. Around 55,000 applicants are randomly selected every year depending on certain eligibility conditions. You can also get a green card through employment. In this category, a qualified US employer has to sponsor you. One who is granted Refugee Status or Asylum can also apply for a Green Card. The process and procedures of getting a green card varies according to the category one applies under.
A conditional permanent resident is different from a permanent resident. A conditional permanent resident will be issued a green card that is valid only for two years. You have to remove the conditions 90 days before the card expires. A conditional green card cannot be renewed. If the conditions are not removed, you will lose your permanent resident status. Form I-751 needs to be filed to remove the conditions. After the conditions are removed, you will be issued a permanent resident card that will have a validity for the next ten years.
Getting the Greencard Replaced/Renewed :
A permanent resident card which is valid for ten years has to be renewed on its expiration by filing Form I-90. This form is also used when you want to change any biographic information on your card for example, if your name has changed because of marriage. If you lose your card and need a replacement, the same process is followed. Being a greencard holder makes you eligible for citizenship as permanent resident status is the main eligibility requirement for citizenship. Though green card holders enjoy the benefit of living and working in the US, being a US citizen has added advantages.
You can enter and exit the US without any restrictions and citizenship gives you voting rights too. Additionally, you can sponsor your family members to visit the US. Per the US immigration laws, getting a greencard is very difficult for those who entered illegally. Hence always make sure you enter the US legally.