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Green Card Definition: Test Your

March 2016
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Green Card Definition – From
A Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone
who has been granted authorization to live and work in
the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that
status, a person is granted a permanent resident card,
commonly called a "Green Card."

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Common Knowledge – Folk
• Green Cars is
• Informal name for a document that identifies
• “Legal Permanent Resident”

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Green Card Benefits
• Right to live in the United States
• Right to work
• Right to travel (enter and leave, with some limitations)
• Right to enjoy certain privileges available to general
public (like services of police, social security, health
care, public transportation, etc.)

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Responsibilities of Green Card
• Pay taxes
• Obey laws
• Follow certain residency requirements and address
regulations as defined by immigration authorities

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Green Card Path to Citizenship
• Available but not automatic

One has to apply
Pay fees
Pass medical and civic test
Take oath

• Generally, green card holders are eligible for citizenship after being
a permanent resident for five years
• Green card through marriage allows for a fast track to citizenship –
three years
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How to Get A Green Card

Green card is NOT available to all who wants it
“You can get legal” is not available for all immigrants,
legal or illegal

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How to Get a Green Card
• One must be eligible
• One must apply and prove their eligibility
• One must pay fees
• One must submit one’s biometrics (photograph and
figure prints, etc.)
• One must participate in an interview
• One has to receive a green card number (may take
• Once the number is available, one can have his or her
green card – finally!
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Green Card Categories
• Family
• Employment
• Diversity visa/lottery
• Refugee
• Asylee (aka asylum seeker)
• Other
• Approximately 1 million green cards are issued every
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Green Card Categories: Family
(Immediate Family)
• Green card through marriage
• Sponsor: US citizen or
• Sponsor: green card holder

• Green card through marriage to US citizen is the largest
green card category
• ~25% of all green cards issued

• Green card through marriage to a green card holder (together
with green card holder children) account for 10% of green
card issued annually
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Green Card Categories: Other
• Available to people sponsored by US citizens
• Adult unmarried children of U.S. citizen and their children
• Married children of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their children; and
• Adult brothers/sisters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their children

• These categories combined account for ~11% of the green cards
issued annually
• Note: green card holders can only sponsor their spouses and
unmarried/minor children – they cannot sponsor “other” family
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Green Card Categories:
• Require employer/corporate sponsorship:
• Foreign executives of domestic or international businesses
operating in the United States
• Skilled employees

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Green Card Categories:
Employment (continued)
• No sponsorship required
• Advanced degrees (designated by the government, such as medical
• Aliens with exceptional abilities (example: Noble Prize winners, Olympic
• Alien US government employees abroad (example: Afghani translator to US
• Religious workers
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Green Card Categories:
Employment (continued)
• No sponsorship required but must qualify
• EB-5 program
• Investors spending between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in
direct contribution to the United States economy
• Must demonstrate the investment creates job
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Green Card Categories: Diversity
Visa or Lottery
• As the name implies distributed through lottery
• 50,000 green cards annually
• Favor given to countries, from which immigration to the US was
low over the past five years
• Certain countries are ineligible because of too high of immigration rates

• For 2013 lottery, 12.5 million people applied
• Chance of winning this lottery is 0.4%, or 4 out of 1,000
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Green Card Categories:
• Must demonstrate that they were persecuted or fear
persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political
opinion, or membership in a particular social group
• Must be outside of the United States
• Must secure referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions
Program (USRAP)
• Must enter the United States as refugee
• Must wait one year to apply for green card
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Green Card Categories: Asylum
• Must demonstrate that they were persecuted or fear
persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political
opinion, or membership in a particular social group
• Note this condition is the same as for refugees

• Must be at the port of entry to, or inside of, the United

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Green Card Categories: Other
• Very small “bucket” of green cards – less than 2% annually
• Typically not considered an immigration path

• Includes previously scheduled to be deported illegal
immigrants, who petitioned their case in front of the
immigration judge and received authorization to stay
• Also includes continuous residents since 1972
• Direct order of certain government agencies like CIA
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What About Your Eligibility Test?
• In short, it is tough to qualify
• Unless you are married to a US citizen – easiest and most certain
green card path
• Other categories require sponsorships, may involve spending a lot
of money, time or both
• When politicians argue “get legal” to illegal immigrants, or “illegal
is illegal is illegal”, perhaps they should try going through the
green card application themselves
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Link to the Detailed Article

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Thank you!

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The statements expressed in this presentation are opinion of the author.

The opinions are based on research of public information, and may not be complete nor 100% applicable to one’s specific situation.

One should seek qualified legal advice regarding his or her specific circumstances.

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Thank you!

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