When most foreign citizens speak of gaining the right to live and work in the U.S., they say that they are trying to get their “green cards.” The card itself isn’t green, but the nickname, which derived from a green receipt that was issued to immigrants who registered their immigration status, has become synonymous with making it in the United States.
A Stepping Stone to Citizenship
Once a foreign citizen has lived in the United States on a valid green card for a period of at least five years, the green card holder is eligible to request full citizenship status. Green cards are generally issued for purposes of employment, by family relation, to seekers of asylum, to certain individuals who have been in the U.S. legally or illegally since the 1st of January, 1972, to winners of the green card lottery, and by the power of the U.S. Congress to adjust the laws on who may qualify for a green card.
Keeping and Maintaining a Green Card
The government does not generally open its borders to those who intend to violate its rules. This is why green cards are issued with several reasons for a person’s green card to be revoked. For example, employment based green cards can be revoked if a holder fails to maintain lawful employment. Family based green cards can be revoked if the government determines that they were won by fraud. Generally, all types of green cards can be revoked if the holder is found to have broken a serious law.
When holders of green cards enter or exit the country at an official port of entry, they are tracked by a date of departure and date of return. If the period of time between these two dates exceeds one year, the holder of a green card will have to apply for a special permit to reenter the country that shows the government that the immigrant did not abandon his or her permanent residence status. The reentry permit is valid for two years.
When it comes to applying for a green card, there are several rules and exceptions to rules that could have a major impact on a foreign citizen’s ability to receive a green card. This is why foreign citizens who are considering applying for a green card should work with an experienced green card attorney who can offer sound legal advice throughout the green card application process.
In most cases, an immigration and green card attorney can advise foreign citizens on the requirements to qualify for a green card and can review all of the facts relevant to a person’s case to determine which type of green card should be applied for. When that is decided, the attorney can walk the applicant through the green card process, from beginning to end. If they were to try to do all of the legwork and research on their own, foreign citizens may very well find the green card application process confusing and frustrating, which would only risk the application being denied for errors.