What Is a Lawful Permanent Resident?

A lawful permanent resident, also known as a green card holder, is a person that has been granted permission to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.

Are There Different Pathways Open to Me When Seeking to Become a Lawful Permanent Resident?

If you are considering applying to become a lawful permanent resident, you must be eligible under one of the following categories to do so. You may receive a green card:

  • Through family

  • Through your job

  • Because you are a special immigrant

  • Because you are a refugee or are seeking asylum

  • Because you have been the victim of human trafficking

  • Because you have been the victim of abuse

  • Because you qualified through the diversity immigrant visa lottery

  • Because you have been present continuously in the United State since before January 1, 1972

  • Through other categories

Once you determine which one of the above categories applies best to your case, you must explore the specific requirements that apply to your particular situation. Talk to an immigration attorney to get the guidance you need.

What Is the Difference Between an Immigrant Visa and a Green Card?

You may receive an immigrant visa if you are planning on living permanently in this country. You should obtain this visa before you travel to the United States. Once here, you can apply to become a permanent resident and receive a green card. This document can only be issued in the United States and not overseas.

Do Permanent Residents and Citizens Have the Same Rights?

Although most rights apply to everyone living in the United States, there are several key differences when it comes to citizens and permanent residents.

These actions can only be carried out by United States citizens:

  • Vote in federal elections

  • Apply to specific government jobs

  • Petition for more categories of family members

  • Will not lose legal status for being absent from the country for extended periods of time

  • Will not lose citizenship for having criminal convictions

How Can I Become a US Citizen If I Am Now a Permanent Resident?

Once you become a legal permanent resident, you become eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years have gone by. Besides this timeline, other requirements such as proving physical presence, good moral standing and a basic knowledge of American history, geography and civics are required.

You must also file the N-400 form of the USCIS, get your biometrics and schedule an interview.

Are There Any Reasons That Would Make Me Lose My Permanent Resident Status?

There are many actions and situations that can result in your losing your permanent residency in the United States. Among them:

  • Committing certain criminal acts

  • Using false documents

  • Being absent from the country for extended periods of time

  • Falsely claiming to be an American citizen

  • Helping other people immigrate to the United States

If you are concerned that any of the above situations apply to you, you should be very careful and think twice before traveling outside the United States.

Are You Interested in Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident?

Immigration law is quite complicated to tackle on your own. Also, it applies differently to people in different situations. Talk to an immigration attorney today and get help understanding your rights and the possibility of achieving this goal.

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