6 Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Getting a Green Card

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Around one million people receive a green card each year. Interestingly enough, less than half of those people are new arrivals from foreign countries. Most people who get green cards already live in the United States by way of temporary visas. Knowing green card facts like this one are not only interesting but they help us to better understand the green card process. Millions of people depend on green cards in order to continue living in the United States. Despite that, there are many Americans who really don’t know what green cards are or what they even do.

Luckily, we’re here to help. Whether you currently have a green card, you’re trying to get one, or you just want to learn more information, everyone can benefit from learning new green card facts. So continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know!

1. What Is a Green Card?

A green card is formally known as a permanent resident card. It’s given by the Citizenship and Immigration Service to foreign nationals. A green card allows recipients to live and work indefinitely in the US. Green cards utilize fingerprints and holographic images in order to stop counterfeiting. If you are given a green card, you have to renew it every ten years. And if you ever want to become an American citizen, you’ll first need to have a green card. 

2. Why Is It Called a Green Card?

The first kind of permanent resident card was made shortly after the Second World War and was known as an alien registration receipt card. It was also green in color. Since that time, the card has taken on all sorts of colors, from yellow to pink. But the green card name has always stuck.

3. Who Is Eligible for a Green Card?

There are currently multiple categories of people who are eligible for green cards. These categories include:

  • spouses of American citizens
  • parents of American citizens who are at least 21
  • workers with “extraordinary ability” in a field such as the arts, science, athletics, business, or education
  • people who have had refugee or asylum status for at least one year
  • foreign nationals who have “invested” — or are actively in the process of investing — at least one million dollars in a new commercial enterprise in the US that will create full-time positions for at least ten qualifying employees
  • people who are investing at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area

People can also be given a green card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. This is sometimes referred to as the green card lottery. The program randomly does a random draw in order to grant 50,000 green cards a year to pre-screened applicants from countries that have a low rate of immigration to the U.S. People who are from the following countries are not allowed to apply for the green card lottery:

  • Bangladesh
  • Vietnam
  • the Philippines
  • Canada
  • Pakistan
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Ecuador
  • India
  • Haiti
  • El Salvador
  • Jamaica
  • Nigeria
  • the Dominican Republic
  • Peru
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (not including Northern Ireland)
  • Mainland China


While Mainland China natives are barred from the lottery, natives of Hong Kong are not barred. 

4. What’s the Procedure for Obtaining a Green Card?

If an immigrant is already legally in the United States, then they must file papers in order to change their current visa status and apply to become a permanent resident. There are a certain number of immigrant visas that can be issued to foreign nationals who are looking to become lawful permanent residents every year. 

There isn’t any limit on immigrant visas for “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens. If you’re currently outside of the US, then you need to apply at an American consulate abroad. The process begins with an initial petition. This eventually leads to the assignment of an immigrant visa number, which allows an application to move forward. Processing times for getting a green card will vary. However, it can often take many months.

5. How Much Does It Cost?

It’s important to know that getting a green card doesn’t come cheap. It costs around $1,000 to get a green card. This includes the fees for adjusting a foreign national’s immigration status. The costs also cover the collection of biometric information, such as a signature and photograph (used for security checks), and fingerprints. 

6. What Kinds of Benefits Come With a Green Card?

The biggest benefit of having a green card is that you get to permanently work and reside in the United States. People who have green cards are free to travel around the country and they can also sponsor certain family members to apply for their own green cards. A green card holder can also apply to become a citizen after five years. Other benefits of having a green card include:

  • tax and retirement benefits
  • grants for education and research
  • eligibility for Social Security
  • insurance coverage

If you have a green card, you can also apply legally for the financing of purchases such as a car or house. 

As we can see, green cards can really add a lot of benefits to a person’s life. And by knowing what a green card is and how it works, you’ll be able to have a smoother experience if you try to get your own green card. Are you looking for other helpful legal articles like this one? If so, then make sure to check out the rest of our blog today for more!

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