What is a Green Card?
Foreign nationals who become “permanent residents” are given cards called “Alien Registration Receipt Cards,” otherwise known as “green cards.” Green cards give you the right to work and permanently reside in the United States. Foreign nationals who may be eligible to obtain a green card include:
- Immediate family members of U.S. citizens or other permanent U.S. residents
- Refugees and asylees
- Individuals with job offers for positions in demand by U.S. employers
- Educated professionals
- Lottery winners in the U.S. government's diversity visa program
The processes for obtaining green cards vary. If you are not in the United States, you will begin the process by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate in your home country. If you currently reside in the U.S., you will seek an “adjustment of status” through the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (the U.S. government agency which took over responsibility for adjustment of status applications from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service). Individuals who are issued green cards will eventually be able to apply for U.S. citizenship, a process called “naturalization.”
Interestingly, green cards are no longer green; they are now high-tech and hard-to-forge cards with embedded identifiers and magnetic strip technology.