A green card is slang for a card which serves as evidence of an immigrant's permanent residence status. The first cards made were in fact green and the name stuck even though the color of the card has changed several times over the years. Government Green cards allow foreign nationals to live and work in the United States permanently. While green card employment, or permanent residency card, offers a great deal of opportunity for immigrants, getting one can be a very frustrating process that can take years to complete, and applicants are highly advised to seek help from an Immigration Lawyer. Permanent residence status does not afford all the rights of U.S. citizenship, but does offer an immigrant the opportunity to work and live in the United States permanently (barring any illegal activity which can result in removal and loss of permanent residence status).
If you want to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, the first step requires a sponsor to file a petition for you when applying for a green card. The following is a list of categories under which you might be able to find a sponsor:
Spouse, fiancé or unmarried child under age 21 of U.S. Citizen
Spouse or unmarried child under age 21 of Lawful Permanent Resident
Priority worker (workers nationally recognized as experts in their field)
Religious workers, former employees of the U.S. government, and other specifically designated categories of people
A sponsor is not necessary in this category, but the entrepreneur has to be willing to invest $1,000,000 or $500,000 and employ ten U.S. workers.
Aliens seeking protection from persecution based on specific factors
Groups of aliens specifically approved by Congress for green card eligibility
In order to get a green card, an individual must have an immigrant visa number. The number is only issued at the time of approval of the I-485 adjustment of status application. While it may not take long for USCIS to approve an individual's visa petition, it can take years for the State Department to issues an immigrant visa number.
In all cases, applicants should not make travel arrangements, give up jobs or apartment leases, etc. until the visa has been issued. There is never a guarantee that a visa will be issued at any given time. Some visa applications require further administrative processing or background checks which can take additional time after the applicant's interview by a Consular Officer. An immigrant visa can be valid for six months from the date of issuance which should allow sufficient time to make travel plans.
Persons born in countries other than the U.S. may have a claim, under United States law, to U.S. nationality if: