Green Card

The US Green Card is an immigration visa that grants the holder an unlimited residence and work permit for the USA. It is one of the most popular documents in the world and opens the door for thousands of USA fans to the United States of America every year! Learn more about the advantages and how you can win a Green Card in the US DV Lottery!

What is a Green Card?

The United States Permanent Resident Card (official: Form I-551, colloquial: Green Card) is an identification document of the United States. Upon application, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the document to persons who are not yet U.S. citizens but who have settled in the United States with the intention of immigrating. Holders of the card are known as Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) or in short Permanent Residents. The name Green Card is derived from the first ID cards, which bore green lettering and a greenish colored photo.

The Green Card differs from other visas in allowing its holder to stay and work in the USA for an unlimited period of time; it is not pasted into the passport like any other visa, but forms an independent identification document. The legal status of permanent residence in the USA is the middle of three stages on the way to being naturalized:

  1. Immigrant visa
  2. Permanent Residency with Green Card
  3. US citizenship

Advantages of a Green Card

The US Green Card is one of the most sought-after immigration visas worldwide. Holders of this Permanent Resident Card can benefit from a variety of advantages:

  • unlimited entry to the USA - no need for a US Visa or ESTA anymore!
  • Live without restrictions in any US state.
  • Holding of the previous citizenship.
  • After three or five years you can apply for US citizenship.

As an employee

  • Work visa is no longer required.
  • Free choice of employer.
  • Indefinite employment contracts and change of employer are no problem.
  • Less strict work requirements than for other non-Americans.

As a self-employed person

Certain limited permits, such as business licenses or trade licenses, can be obtained more easily and quickly.

As a student

  • Studying in the US without a student visa.
  • Tuition fees can be reduced by up to 80%.

As a pensioner

  • Legal and permanent immigration for retirement.
  • Entitlement to pension insurance earned in the USA and in your home country, e.g. Germany.
  • Entitlement to medical care and other state social benefits.

Note: For this entitlement you must have lived in the USA for at least five years

How can I get a Green Card?

There are three ways to obtain a Green Card:

  • Based on a job in the USA
  • Due to a family reunion
  • By winning the DV Lottery

There are different requirements depending on which category is chosen.

In general, a Green Card application must be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since 2004, this application can only be submitted online. After the immigration authorities have reviewed and approved the application, a consular procedure is usually followed by the US consulate in the home country. The consulate then reviews all documents submitted by the applicant. Alternatively, a status adjustment can be made directly in the USA if the applicant is already there.

Which forms have to be submitted depends on the Green Card category the applicant is applying for.

US DV Lottery -Are you eligible?

Can I bring my family if I win?

Unmarried children under 21 years of age, under certain circumstances also adopted children and stepchildren, and spouses can also receive a Green Card at the same time as the main applicant.

Older children can receive a Green Card by making a later application as part of a family reunion.

Married children, regardless of age, parents or siblings can only receive a permanent residence permit through a relationship with a US citizen. This means that the Green Card holder can be naturalized after three or five years and then apply for a Green Card for his or her family members.

Should the family status change during the course of the Green Card application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must be notified immediately.

This applies primarily to marriages that are entered into during the Green Card process, as well as to natural, adopted, and stepchildren born or added during this time. Therefore, to increase your chances of getting a Green Card, both spouses should always participate in the DV Lottery!

Apply now & win a green card

How to become US citizen?

Green Card holders who wish to obtain American citizenship must meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum age of 18 years
  • pass the English test
  • pass the naturalisation test - also known as the Civics Test
  • "Good Moral Character" > The behaviour testifies the respect and observance of the American laws
  • for at least three months prior to the application, the residence was in the same US state or USCIS district
  • You have resided in the USA as a Green Card holder for at least five years and have spent at least 30 months in the USA within the last five years

OR

you have lived and been married to a US citizen for at least three years and have spent at least 18 months of that time together in the USA

If you meet these requirements, the N-400 form can be submitted online to the USCIS. After the application has been processed and the fee paid, fingerprints must be taken. This is followed by an interview at the USCIS office, during which, among other things, the English test and the knowledge test are carried out.

If you pass the test, you will be invited to the naturalization ceremony. Here the Green Card is handed in and the American passport is handed out.

In the course of this, the social security data should be changed and your right to vote should be registered.

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How long is a Green Card valid?

Once you have received the Green Card, it is valid for lifetime and can only be revoked under the above conditions. However, the Permanent Resident Card must be renewed after ten years, similar to an identity card e.g.. If you fail to comply with this renewal, you will be liable to pay a fine.

Do I have to immigrate?

The US authorities only issue a Green Card if they are convinced of the applicant's intention to immigrate. Therefore, the permanent residence permit should not be regarded as a possibility to enter the USA for business or holiday trips in the future. Instead, the focus must be on long-term emigration.

However, especially in the initial period after receiving the Green Card, the authorities are aware that not everyone is able to suddenly give up their previous life and move to the USA. Therefore, especially in the first one to three years, commuting between the United States and the home country is not a problem.

However, it must be ensured that after receiving the Green Card, one may not leave the USA for more than 12 months. Already from 6 months of absence, unpleasant questions regarding the absence and the actual intention to immigrate may arise when entering the country.

Those who cannot enter the USA for more than 12 months in a row must apply for a so-called Re-Entry Permit in advance. With this permit, the Green Card holder may stay outside the USA for up to 24 months. This permit is a good solution, especially immediately after receiving the Green Card, to be able to prepare the final emigration. Depending on the age of the holder, this permit is also associated with a bureaucratic effort and costs of 575-660 USD.

Green Card Design

In order to make counterfeiting more difficult, the design of the Green Card has changed several times since its introduction in the 1950s. Not only have obvious features, such as the color, been changed, but various security features have also been regularly added or modified.

The last change occurred in 2017 and since then the Permanent Resident Card has had the following features, among others:

  • A photo of the Green Card holder on both sides of the card
  • it is mainly green
  • Image of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty

Since then, the signature of the Green Card holder is no longer shown on the card:

dvlottery green card front DVlottery Green Card back

Can I stay in the US without a Green Card?

An immigration in the meaning of a permanent residence with free choice of residence and job is only possible with a Green Card or US citizenship.

There are of course various visa categories, e.g. a student visa, for which you can apply. However, these are always issued for a limited time and are also tied to strict requirements, such as employment with a specified employer.

 

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The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 to provide for a new class of immigrants known as "diversity immigrants" (DV immigrants). The Act makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

From the State Department: "Alien petitioners for the Diversity Visa Program will no longer be permitted to submit a petition by mail. Instead, the Department will require that all petitions be submitted to it in an electronic format, using an Internet website dedicated specifically to the submission and receipt of Diversity Visa."