Green Card Rules: What You Need to Know
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Green Card Rules: What You Really Need to Know

A green card, also known as a permanent residence card, is one of the ways a person can legally enter and reside in the United States. Green card holders enjoy many of the benefits of U.S. citizenship, including being allowed to live and work in the United States, as well as being protected by all laws of the United States, as well as the state and municipality in which you reside. Once you obtain a green card, you are permitted to live in the U.S. for the rest of your life, provided you continue to obey all federal and state laws, file your income tax returns and report all income to the IRS, and register with the United States Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25. This is all fairly straightforward and simple; however, there are some additional rules you need to know in order to ensure that you keep your green card in good standing and retain your privileges as a permanent resident of the United States.

Green Card Rules

The green card rules in the United States can be complicating to understand. The following questions are common when our immigration lawyers see immigrants interested in a green card. 

How Do I Become Eligible for a Green Card?

Not everyone is eligible to apply for a green card. In order to obtain permanent United States residency with a green card, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. Some of the ways to qualify for a United States green card include:

  • Being an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen. This includes being a spouse, child under the age of 21, or parent of a child over the age of 21 who is a United States citizen. You may also qualify for a green card if you are a relative of a U.S. citizen under the family-based preference categories, or if you are engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen; however, if the marriage doesn’t occur in this situation, you may lose your green card status.

  • Being a widow/widower of a United States citizen. If you were married to a citizen at the time of his or her death, you are still eligible to retain permanent residency status with a green card.

  • Being a victim of spousal, parental or child abuse. If you have been abused by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, you may qualify for a green card to remain in the United States. You may also qualify for a green card if you have been a victim of human trafficking, or if you are seeking refugee or asylee status from your home country.

  • Being employed in the United States. If you are a first, second or third preference immigrant worker, or if you are a physician or investor of over $1 million in a commercial enterprise in the United States, you may qualify for a green card.

In addition to these common qualifications for a green card, other special circumstances exist which can make you eligible for permanent United States residency. For more information on green card eligibility requirements, rules and regulations, visit the USCIS website.

How Do I Keep my Green Card?

Once you have obtained permanent residency in the United States, it is vital to make sure you renew it as needed. Some green cards must be renewed after two years, while others expire every ten years. In order to maintain your permanent residency status, you must keep up with the renewal of your green card by completing Form I-90, the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. This form can be filled out either online or on paper, and will ensure that your green card status remains valid. Form I-90 should also be filled out if you require a replacement green card for any reason prior to your renewal period.

Questions About Green Card Rules?

If you live in the Tampa area and need assistance with obtaining, renewing or replacing your green card, Diaz Shafer and the experts at Sunstate Immigration can help. We are a team of immigration attorneys with the experience and knowledge you need to achieve permanent U.S. residency, and can help with a variety of immigration-related issues. Call Diaz Shafer and the legal experts at Sunstate Immigration today at 1-855-VISA-SUN (1-855-847-2786), or contact our main Tampa office number at 813-250-1300. At Sunstate Immigration, we want to help you stay in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident!