A green card is a proof of lawful permanent resident status in the United States. It also means being officially granted immigration benefits to live and work in the United States legally.
Ways to Get a Green Card:
There are many ways to get a green card. One way is being sponsored by your family members. You can also get one through employment. Here the sponsor is the US company that decides to employ you. There is also the Diversity Visa lottery program. You can be one among the 55,000 persons to get a green card through this program that is held annually. But you should meet certain eligibility requirements as not all countries are eligible to participate. You can also apply for a card if you were granted Refugee Status or Asylum. The process and procedures differ according to the category under which you are applying.
You can get a green card while you are in the US or abroad. If you are abroad or when you are not eligible to adjust status, you can get a green card through Consular Processing. In case you are in the US and eligible to apply for a green card based on being sponsored by an employer or your family member, or if you are presently in asylee or refugee status, you can file an application to adjust status to permanent resident by filing Form I-485 with the USCIS.
As mentioned earlier, if you are presently in the U.S. and have an approved immigrant petition, you can file an application to adjust status to a permanent resident of the US. Unless you apply under a category for which visa numbers are always available, you must have a “current” Priority Date to be eligible to file. If you are applying based on a relationship with your spouse who is a US citizen, the parent or child may be eligible to file the application to adjust status to permanent resident at the same time that the immigrant petition is submitted.
If you are an individual who was in a asylee or refugee status for one year or more, you may also be eligible to file to adjust status to a permanent resident. You cannot file to adjust status to permanent resident if you are outside the U.S. In such cases, you can get a green card by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate in your own country.
A conditional permanent resident card is different from a permanent resident card. A conditional permanent resident will get a green card that is valid for two years. Persons under this category have to remove the conditions 90 days before the date on which the card expires. A conditional green card cannot be renewed. If the conditions are not removed, you will lose your resident status in the US. You should file Form I-751 with the USCIS to remove the conditions.
Once your petition is approved and conditions removed, you will get a permanent resident card that will have a validity for the next ten years. Being a green card holder makes you eligible for citizenship as permanent resident status is one of the eligibility requirements for citizenship.