United States Permanent Resident Card
Overview
 

United States lawful permanent residency refers to a person's immigration status: the person is authorized to live and work in the United States of America on a permanent basis.

A United States Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551), formerly Alien Registration Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form I-151), is an identification card attesting to the permanent resident status of an alien
Alien (law)
In law, an alien is a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country.-Categorization:Types of "alien" persons are:*An alien who is legally permitted to remain in a country which is foreign to him or her. On specified terms, this kind of alien may be called a legal alien of that country...

 in the United States.
Encyclopedia

United States lawful permanent residency refers to a person's immigration status: the person is authorized to live and work in the United States of America on a permanent basis.

A United States Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551), formerly Alien Registration Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form I-151), is an identification card attesting to the permanent resident status of an alien
Alien (law)
In law, an alien is a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country.-Categorization:Types of "alien" persons are:*An alien who is legally permitted to remain in a country which is foreign to him or her. On specified terms, this kind of alien may be called a legal alien of that country...

 in the United States. It is known informally as a green card because it had been green in color from 1946 until 1964, and it has reverted to that color since May 2010. Green card also refers to an immigration process of becoming a permanent resident. The green card serves as proof that its holder, a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), has been officially granted immigration benefits, which include permission to reside and take employment in the USA. The holder must maintain permanent resident status, and can be removed from the United States if certain conditions of this status are not met.

Green cards were formerly issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service
Immigration and Naturalization Service
The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service , now referred to as Legacy INS, ceased to exist under that name on March 1, 2003, when most of its functions were transferred from the Department of Justice to three new components within the newly created Department of Homeland Security, as...

 (INS). During a re-organization process, that agency was absorbed into and replaced by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Shortly after that re-organization, BCIS was renamed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which still retains the responsibility for issuing green cards.

Permanent residents of the United States eighteen years of age or older must carry their valid physical green card itself at all times. Failing to do so would be a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, carrying the possibility of a fine up to $100 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days for each offense. Only the federal government can impose these penalties.

Reading a Permanent Resident Card

Most of the information on the card is self-evident. The computer and human readable signature at the bottom is not. The format is (digit range: expected data (information contained)):
  • First line:
1–2: C1 or C2. C1 = Resident within the United States C2= Permanent Resident commuter (Living in Canada or Mexico)
3–5: USA (issuing country, United States)
6–14: 9-digit number (A#, alien number)
15: application receipt number
16–30: immigrant case number that resulted in the approved green card. The "<" symbol represents a blank space
  • Second line:
1-6: birth date (in YY/MM/DD format)
7: not documented, assumed to be a check digit
8: gender
9-14: expiration date (in YY/MM/DD format)
15: not documented, assumed to be a check digit
16-29: country of birth
30: not documented, assumed to be a check digit
  • Third line:
last name, first name, middle name, first initial of father, first initial of mother (this line is spaced with "<<" between the last name and first name). Depending on the length of the name, the father's and mother's initials may be omitted.


A full list of category codes (i.e. IR1, E21, etc.) can be found in the Federal Register.

Path to U.S. citizenship

A Lawful Permanent Resident can apply for United States citizenship, or naturalization
Naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

, after five years of residency. This period is shortened to three years if married to a U.S. citizen, or four years if permanent residency was received through asylum
Asylum in the United States
The United States honors the right of asylum of individuals as specified by international and federal law. A specified number of legally defined refugees, who apply for asylum either overseas or after arriving in the U.S., are admitted annually. Refugees compose about one-tenth of the total...

. Lawful Permanent Residents may submit their applications for naturalization as early as 90 days before meeting the residency requirement. Citizens are entitled to more rights (and obligations) than permanent residents (who are still classified as aliens
Alien (law)
In law, an alien is a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country.-Categorization:Types of "alien" persons are:*An alien who is legally permitted to remain in a country which is foreign to him or her. On specified terms, this kind of alien may be called a legal alien of that country...

 in this respect). Lawful Permanent Residents generally do not have the right to vote, the right to be elected in federal and state elections, the ability to bring family members to the United States (permanent residents are allowed to sponsor certain family members, but this is often not practical due to long approval delays), or eligibility for federal government jobs. Male permanent residents between the ages of 18 and 26 are subject to registering in the Selective Service System
Selective Service System
The Selective Service System is a means by which the United States government maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. Most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of...

. Permanent residents who reside in the US must pay taxes on their worldwide income, like U.S. citizens. Certain conditions that may put a permanent resident in deportation proceedings do not apply to U.S. citizens.

Types of immigration

U.S. immigration legislation in the Immigration and Nationality Act  (INA) stipulates that a person may obtain permanent resident status primarily through the course of the following proceedings:
  • immigration through a family member
  • immigration through employment
  • immigration through investment
  • immigration through the Diversity Lottery
    Diversity Immigrant Visa
    The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States congressionally mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. It is also known as the Green Card Lottery. The lottery is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms...

  • immigration through Refugee or Asylum status
  • immigration through "The Registry" provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • immigration approved by the Director of Central Intelligence

Immigration eligibility and quotas

Category Eligibility Annual Quotac Immigrant Visa Backlog
Family-Sponsored
IR Immediate relative (opposite sex spouse, minor children & parents) of U.S. citizens
(A U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age in order to sponsor his or her parents.)
No numerical limita  
F1 Unmarried (or married to a same sex spouse) sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of U.S. citizens 23,400 7–18 yearsb
F2A Opposite sex spouse and minor children (under 21 year old) of lawful permanent residents 87,934 4 yearsb
F2B Unmarried (or married to a same sex spouse) sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of lawful permanent residents 26,266 8–19 yearsb
F3 Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens 23,400 10-19 yearsb
F4 Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens 65,000 11-23 yearsb
Employment-Basedc
EB1 Priority workers. There are three sub-groups: 1. Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics OR 2. Foreign nationals that are outstanding professors or researchers with at least three years' experience in teaching or research and who are recognized internationally. OR 3. Foreign nationals that are managers and executives subject to international transfer to the United States. 40,000 currently available
EB2 Professionals holding advanced degrees (Ph.D., master's degree, or at least five years of progressive post-baccalaureate experience) or persons of exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business 40,000 currently available except for individuals from the People's Republic of China and India (5 years)b
EB3 Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers 40,000 6–9 yearsb
EB4 Certain special immigrants: ministers, religious workers, current or former U.S. government workers, etc. 10,000 currently available
EB5 Investors 10,000 currently available, except for nationals of China
Diversity Immigrant (DV)
Diversity Immigrant Visa
The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States congressionally mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. It is also known as the Green Card Lottery. The lottery is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms...

50,000  
Political Asylum
Asylum in the United States
The United States honors the right of asylum of individuals as specified by international and federal law. A specified number of legally defined refugees, who apply for asylum either overseas or after arriving in the U.S., are admitted annually. Refugees compose about one-tenth of the total...

No numerical limit  
Refugee 70,000  
a 300,000–500,000 immediate relatives admitted annually.
b No more than 7 percent of the visas may be issued to natives of any one country. Currently, individuals from China (mainland), India, Mexico and the Philippines are subject to per-country quotas in most of the categories, and the waiting time may take longer.
c Spouse and minor children of the IR/F4/EB applicants, DV winners, asylums & refugees may apply for immigrant visa adjudication with their spouse or parent. The quotas include not only the principal applicants but also their nuclear family members.

Application process

An immigrant usually has to go through a three-step process to get permanent residency. The whole process may take several years, depending on the type of immigrant category and the country of birth. An applicant (alien) in the United States can obtain two permits while the case is pending after a certain stage is passed in green card processing (filing of I-485). The first is a temporary work permit known as the Employment Authorization Document
Employment Authorization Document
An Employment Authorization Document , EAD card, known popularly as a "work permit", is a document issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that provides its holder a legal right to work in the United States of America...

 (EAD), which allows the alien to take employment in the United States. The second is a temporary travel document, advance parole, which allows the alien to re-enter the United States. Both permits confer benefits that are independent of any existing status granted to the alien. For example, the alien might already have permission to work in the United States under an H-1B visa
H-1B visa
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101. It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations...

.
  1. Immigrant Petition – in the first step, USCIS approves the immigrant petition by a qualifying relative, an employer, or in rare cases, such as with an investor visa, the applicant himself. If a sibling is applying, she or he must have the same parents as the applicant.
  2. Immigrant Visa Availability – in the second step, unless the applicant is an "immediate relative", an immigrant visa number through the National Visa Center (NVC) of the United States Department of State
    United States Department of State
    The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

     (DOS) must be available. A visa number might not be immediately available even if the USCIS approves the petition, because the number of immigrant visa numbers is limited every year by quotas set in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There are also certain additional limitations by country of birth. Thus, most immigrants will be placed on lengthy waiting lists. Those immigrants who are immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen (spouses and children under 21 years of age, and parents of a US citizen who is 21 years of age or older) are not subject to these quotas and may proceed to the next step immediately (since they qualify for the IR immigrant category).
  3. Immigrant Visa Adjudication – in the third step, when an immigrant visa number becomes available, the applicant must either apply with USCIS to adjust their current status to permanent resident status or apply with the DOS for an immigrant visa at the nearest US consulate before being allowed to come to the United States.
    • Adjustment of Status (AOS) – Adjustment of status is submitted to USCIS via form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The USCIS conducts a series of background checks (including fingerprinting for FBI criminal background check and name checks) and makes a decision on the application. Once the adjustment of status application is accepted, the alien is allowed to stay in the United States even if the original period of authorized stay on the Form I-94 is expired, but he is not allowed to leave the country until the application is approved or rejected. If the alien has to leave the United States during this time, he/she can apply for travel documents at the USCIS with form I-131, also called Advance Parole. If there is a potential risk that the applicant's work permit (visa) will expire or become invalid (laid off by the employer and visa sponsor) or the applicant wants to start working in the United States, while he/she is waiting for the decision about his/her application to change status, he/she can file form I-765, to get Employment Authorization Documents (also called EAD) and be able to continue or start working legally in the United States. In some cases, the applicant will be interviewed at a USCIS office, especially if it is a marriage-based adjustment from a K-1 visa
      K-1 visa
      A K-1 visa is a dual intent visa issued to the fiancé or fiancée of a United States citizen to enter the United States. A K-1 visa requires a foreigner to marry his or her U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry. Once the couple marries, the foreign citizen can adjust status to become a...

      , in which case both the husband and wife will be interviewed by the USCIS. If the application is approved, the alien becomes an LPR, and the actual green card is mailed to the alien's last known mailing address.
    • Consular Processing – this is an alternative to AOS, but still requires the immigrant visa petition to be completed. If the applicant is outside of the USA (or selects this option instead of AOS), he/she may make an appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate in his/her home country, where a consular officer adjudicates the case. If the case is approved, an immigrant visa is issued by the U.S. embassy or consulate. The visa entitles the holder to travel to the U.S. as an immigrant. At the port of entry, the immigrant visa holder is processed for a permanent resident card and receives an I-551 stamp in his/her passport. The permanent resident card is mailed to his/her US address within several weeks.

Green card holders and families

Green card holders married to non-U.S. citizens are able to legally bring their spouses and minor children to join them in the USA, but only after an extensive multi-year delay, during which time the family is separated. The foreign spouse of a green card holder must wait for approval of an 'immigrant visa' from the State Department before entering the United States. Due to numerical limitation on the number of these visas, the current wait time for approval is four to five years for all non-retrogressed countries (including Western Europe), and many more for the retrogressed countries. In the interim, the spouse cannot be legally present in the United States (let alone work), unless he/she secures a visa for himself/herself using some other means. However, securing another (i.e. non-immigrant) visa for himself/herself is usually difficult (and nearly-impossible at US embassies in some countries). This is because the spouse has to overcome presumed immigrant intent in order to qualify for a non-immigrant (or tourist) visa, a position at odds with her or his marriage to a US permanent resident. Due to the long wait and the immigration intent issues, many green card holders opt to wait to become US citizens (usually 5 years), and only then sponsor their spouses and children (the process is much faster for US Citizens). This, however, imposes a family separation of several years, unique in the immigration laws of industrialized nations.

This puts US green card holders in a uniquely disadvantaged situation:
  • visitors and non-immigrants coming to the USA on temporary visas for work, business, or study (including H1, L1, B, J1, and F1 visas) can sponsor their dependent spouses to live with them (but usually not work) in the US;
  • U.S. citizens can sponsor their spouses to come to the USA in non-immigrant status; the spouse can then convert to an immigrant status under the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act of 2000 (the "LIFE Act"). This process is fast (6–12 months) and, unlike with green card holders, the spouse can be present in the US during the process.


The issue of US green card holders separated from their families for years is not a new problem. A mechanism to unite families of LPRs was created by the LIFE Act by the introduction of a 'V visa
V visa
The V visa is a temporary visa available to spouses and minor children of U.S. lawful permanent residents . It allows permanent residents to achieve family unity with their spouses and children while the immigration process takes its course. It was created by the Legal Immigration Family Equity...

,' signed into law by President Clinton. It effectively expired and is no longer available. From time to time, bills are introduced in Congress to reinstate V visas, so far none have been successful.

These proposals for reviving the V visa are based on something that has little controversy—family unity. However, passing such a bill into law is not a small matter, mostly because it is often perceived as a back-door to increasing immigration levels.

Application process for employment-based visa

Many immigrants opt for this route, which requires an employer to "sponsor" (i.e. to petition before USCIS) the immigrant (known as the alien beneficiary) through a presumed future job. The three-step process outlined above is described here in more detail for employment-based immigration applications. After the process is complete, the alien is expected to take the certified job offered by the employer to substantiate his or her immigrant status, since the application ultimately rests on the alien's employment with that company in that particular position.
  1. Immigrant Petition – the first step includes the pre-requisite labor certification
    Labor certification
    Labor certification is a United States of America immigration concept. There are several options available to US employers who wish to hire foreign, non-immigrant workers on a temporary but long-term basis: H-1B visas, L-1 visas, TN status and other options. These temporary options are often...

     upon which the actual petition will reside.
    • Labor Certification – the employer must legally prove that it has a need to hire an alien for a specific position and that there is no minimally qualified U.S. citizen or LPR available to fill that position, hence the reason for hiring the alien. Some of the requirements to prove this situation include: proof of advertising for the specific position; skill requirements particular to the job; verification of the prevailing wage for a position; and the employer's ability to pay. This is currently done through an electronic system known as PERM. The date when the labor certification application is filed becomes the applicant's priority date
      Priority date
      Priority date is a United States immigration concept - it is the date of filling for labor certification.A common path to the green card in the United States is to obtain it through a family based or employment based petition, a very complex process that can take many years to complete. When a...

      . In some cases, for highly skilled foreign nationals (EB1 and EB2 National Interest Waiver, e.g. researchers, athletes, artists or business executives) and "Schedule A" labor (nurses and physical therapists), this step is waived. This step is processed by the United States Department of Labor
      United States Department of Labor
      The United States Department of Labor is a Cabinet department of the United States government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re-employment services, and some economic statistics. Many U.S. states also have such departments. The...

       (DOL). The labor certification is valid for 6 months from the time it is approved.
    • Immigrant Petition – the employer applies on the alien's behalf to obtain a visa number. The application is form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, and it is processed by the USCIS. There are several EB (employment-based) immigrant categories (i.e. EB1-EA, EB2-NIW, EB5) under which the alien may apply, with progressively stricter requirements, but often shorter waiting times. Many of the applications are processed under the EB3 category. Currently, this process takes up to 6 months. Many of the EB categories allow expedited processing of this stage, known as "premium processing".
  2. Immigrant Visa Availability. When the immigrant petition is approved by the USCIS, the petition is forwarded to the NVC for visa allocation. Currently this step centers around the priority date
    Priority date
    Priority date is a United States immigration concept - it is the date of filling for labor certification.A common path to the green card in the United States is to obtain it through a family based or employment based petition, a very complex process that can take many years to complete. When a...

     concept.
    • Priority date – the visa becomes available when the applicant's priority date
      Priority date
      Priority date is a United States immigration concept - it is the date of filling for labor certification.A common path to the green card in the United States is to obtain it through a family based or employment based petition, a very complex process that can take many years to complete. When a...

      is earlier than the cutoff date announced on the DOS's Visa Bulletin or when the immigrant visa category the applicant is assigned to is announced as "current". A "current" designation indicates that visa numbers are available to all applicants in the corresponding immigrant category. Petitions with priority dates earlier than the cutoff date are expected to have visas available, therefore those applicants are eligible for final adjudication. When the NVC determines that a visa number could be available for a particular immigrant petition, a visa is tentatively allocated to the applicant. The NVC will send a letter stating that the applicant may be eligible for adjustment of status, and requiring the applicant to choose either to adjust status with the USCIS directly, or apply at the U.S. consulate abroad. This waiting process determines when the applicant can expect the immigration case to be adjudicated. Due to quotas imposed on EB visa categories, there are more approved immigrant petitions than visas available under INA. High demand for visas has created a backlog of approved but unadjudicated cases. In addition, due to processing inefficiencies throughout DOS and USCIS systems, not all visas available under the quota system in a given year were allocated to applicants by the DOS. Since there is no quota carry-over to the next fiscal year, for several years visa quotas have not been fully used, thus adding to the visa backlog.
  3. Immigrant Visa Adjudication. When the NVC determines that an immigrant visa is available, the case can be adjudicated. If the alien is already in the USA, that alien has a choice to finalize the green card process via adjustment of status in the USA, or via consular processing abroad. If the alien is outside of the USA he/she can only apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate. The USCIS does not allow an alien to pursue consular processing and AOS simultaneously. Prior to filing the form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) it is required that the applicant have a medical examination performed by a USCIS-approved civil surgeon. The examination includes a blood test and specific immunizations, unless the applicant provides proof that the required immunizations were already done elsewhere. The civil surgeon hands the applicant a sealed envelope containing a completed form I-693, which must be included unopened with the I-485 application. (The cited reference also states that the February 25, 2010 edition of the Form I-693 reflects that an individual should no longer be tested for HIV infection.)
    • Adjustment of Status (AOS) – after the alien has a labor certification and has been provisionally allocated a visa number, the final step is to change his or her status to permanent residency. Adjustment of status is submitted to USCIS via form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If an immigrant visa number is available, the USCIS will allow "concurrent filing": it will accept forms I-140 and I-485 submitted in the same package or will accept form I-485 even before the approval of the I-140.
    • Consular Processing – this is an alternative to AOS, but still requires the immigrant visa petition to be completed. In the past (pre-2005), this process was somewhat faster than applying for AOS, so was sometimes used to circumvent long backlogs (of over two years in some cases). However, due to recent efficiency improvements by the USCIS, it is not clear whether applying via consular processing is faster than the regular AOS process. Consular processing is also thought to be riskier since there is no or very little recourse for appeal if the officer denies the application.

Green card lottery

Each year, around 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through the Diversity Visa (DV) program, also known as the Green Card Lottery to people who were born in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States (fewer than 50,000 immigrants in the past five years). Applicants can only qualify by country of birth, not by citizenship. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. They can also file for their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21.

If permanent residence is granted, the winner (and his/her family, if applicable) receives an immigrant visa in their passport(s) that has to be "activated" within six months of issuance at any port of entry to the United States. If already in the US adjustment of status may be pursued. The new immigrant receives a stamp on the visa as proof of lawful admittance to the United States, and the individual is now authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Finally, the actual "green card" typically arrives by mail within a few months.

Recent developments

Over 6.4 million applications for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery were submitted. This is an increase from the more than 5.5 million applications submitted in the 2007 Diversity Visa Lottery. Taking into account dependents, there are more than 10 million participants in the 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery. Most of the applications were from Africa and Asia: 41 percent of the total came from Africa, 38 percent from Asia, 19 percent coming from Europe, and two percent from South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The largest number of applicants came from Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 (more than 1.7 million applicants) followed by Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 (684,735) and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 (619,584).


Normally somewhat lower than 100,000 applicants will be announced as Winners to ensure that all 50,000 Greencards will be issued.
For the FY 2008 there were 5,983 Bangladesh, 8,773 Nigerian and 5,018 of the Ukrainian applications declared as Winners. Of these, there were finally used 2,286 of the Bangladesh Winner numbers, 3,425 of the Nigerian Winner numbers and 1,914 of the Ukrainian Winner numbers to get a Greencard within the time limit. At the end, 46,633 were issued in the FY 2008; 3,367 less than planned.
Therefore the chances to become a Winner in a Lottery differs from the country of origin for which you are filed for. It also differs from year to year.


Over 14.7 million applications for the 2012 Diversity Visa Lottery were submitted. This is an increase from the more than 2.7 million applications submitted in the 2011 Diversity Visa Lottery. Taking into account dependents, there are more than 19.6 million participants in the 2012 Diversity Visa Lottery. The largest number of applicants came from Bangladesh

Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 (more than 7.6 million applicants) followed by Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 (2,144,626) and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 (1,080,091).

Crime: Green card lottery scam

There is a growing number of fraudulent green card lottery scams
Confidence trick
A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. A confidence artist is an individual working alone or in concert with others who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility,...

, in which false agents take money from applicants by promising to submit application forms for them. Most agents are not working for the distribution service. Some claim that they can increase the chance of winning the lottery. This is not true; in fact, they may delay or not submit the application. Likewise, some claim to provide to winners free airline tickets or other benefits, such as submissions in future years or cash funds. There is no way to guarantee their claims, and there are ample nefarious reasons for them not to fulfill their promises. Applicants are advised to use only U.S. official government websites, in which the URL ends in .gov
.gov
The domain name gov is a sponsored top-level domain in the Domain Name System of the Internet. The name is derived from government, indicating its restricted use by government entities in the United States. The gov domain is administered by the General Services Administration , an independent...

.

Green card lottery e-mail fraud

Other fraudsters will e-mail potential victims posing as State Department or other government officials with requests to wire or transfer money online as part of a "processing fee." These fraudulent e-mails are designed to steal money from unsuspecting victims. The senders often use phony e-mail addresses and logos designed to make them look more like official government correspondence. One easy way to tell that an email is a fraud is that it does not end with a ".gov". One particularly common fraud email asks potential victims to wire money via Western Union to an individual (the name varies) at the following address in the United Kingdom: 24 Grosvenor Square, London. These emails come from a variety of email addresses designed to impersonate the U.S. State Department. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services blog has published information on this email scam and how to report fraudulent emails to the authorities.

The Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Trade Commission have issued warnings about this type of fraud or similar business practices.

Conditional permanent residence

As part of immigration reform under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
The Immigration Reform and Control Act , , also Simpson-Mazzoli Act, is an Act of Congress which reformed United States immigration law.In brief the act:* required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status....

 (IRCA), as well as further reform enacted in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Division C of vastly changed the immigration laws of the United States.This act states that if an immigrant has been unlawfully present in the United States for 180 days but less than 365 days...

 (IIRAIRA), persons who are eligible and properly apply for permanent residence based on either a recent marriage to a U.S. citizen or as an investor are granted permanent residence only on a conditional basis, for two years. An exception to this rule is the case of a U.S. citizen legally sponsoring a spouse in which the marriage at the time of the adjustment of status (I-485) is more than two years old. In this case, the conditional status is waived and a 10-year Permanent Resident Card is issued upon USCIS approval of the case. A permanent resident under the conditional clause may receive an I-551 stamp as well as a Permanent Resident Card. The expiration date of the conditional period is two years from the approval date. The immigrant visa category is CR (conditional resident).

When this two-year conditional period is over, the permanent residence automatically expires and the applicant is subject to deportation and removal. To avoid this, 90 days or less before the conditional residence expires, the applicant must file form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (if conditional permanent residence was obtained through marriage) or form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions (if conditional permanent residence was obtained through investment) with USCIS to have the conditions removed. Once the application is received, permanent residence is extended in 1-year intervals until the request to remove conditions is approved or denied.

The USCIS requires that the application for the removal of conditions provide both general and specific supporting evidence that the basis on which the applicant obtained conditional permanent residence was not fraudulent. For an application based on marriage - birth certificates of children, joint financial statements, and letters from employers, friends and relatives are some types of evidence that may be accepted. This is to ensure that the marriage was in good faith and not one of fraudulent means with a sole intention of obtaining a green card. A follow-up interview with an immigration officer is sometimes required but may be waived if the submitted evidence is sufficient. Both the spouses must attend the interview under most circumstances.

The applicant receives an I-551 stamp in their foreign passport upon approval of their case. The applicant is then free from the conditional requirement once the application is approved. The applicant's new Permanent Resident Card arrives via mail to their residence several weeks to several months later and replaces the old two-year conditional residence card. This new card must be renewed after 10 years, but permanent resident status is now granted for an indefinite term if residence conditions are satisfied at all times. USCIS may request to renew the card earlier because of security enhancements of the card or as a part of a revalidation campaign to exclude counterfeit green cards from circulation.

It is important to note that this two-year conditional residence period counts toward satisfying a residency requirement for U.S. naturalization
Naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

, and other purposes. Application for the removal of conditions must be adjudicated before a separate naturalization application could be reviewed by USCIS on its own merits.

Abandonment or loss of permanent residence status

A green card holder may abandon permanent residence by filing form I-407, with the green card, at a U.S. Embassy.

Under certain conditions, permanent residence status can be lost involuntarily. This includes committing a criminal act that makes a person removable from the United States. A person might also be found to have abandoned their status if he or she moves to another country to live there permanently, stays outside the USA for more than 365 days (without getting a re-entry permit before leaving), or does not file an income tax
Income tax in the United States
In the United States, a tax is imposed on income by the Federal, most states, and many local governments. The income tax is determined by applying a tax rate, which may increase as income increases, to taxable income as defined. Individuals and corporations are directly taxable, and estates and...

 return. Permanent resident status can also be lost if it is found that the application or grounds for obtaining permanent residence was fraudulent. The failure to renew the permanent resident card does not result in the loss of status, except in the case of conditional permanent residents as noted above. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to renew the green card on time because it also acts as a work permit
Work permit
Work permit is a generic term for a legal authorization which allows a person to take employment.It is most often used in reference to instances where a person is given permission to work in a country where one does not hold citizenship, but is also used in reference to minors, who in some...

 and travel permit (advance parole), but if you do renew your green card late, there is no penalty or extra fee to pay.

A person who loses permanent residence status is immediately removable from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and must leave the country as soon as possible or face deportation and removal. In some cases the person may be banned from entering the country for three or seven years, or even permanently.

Tax costs of green card relinquishment

Due to the Heart Act
Expatriation Tax
An Expatriation tax is a tax on persons who renounce their citizenship or residence in a country.- United States :Unlike most countries, the United States taxes its citizens on worldwide income, whether or not they are resident in the United States. To deter tax avoidance by abandonment of...

 foreign workers who have owned a green card in eight of the last 15 years and choose to relinquish it will be subject to the Expatriation Tax
Expatriation Tax
An Expatriation tax is a tax on persons who renounce their citizenship or residence in a country.- United States :Unlike most countries, the United States taxes its citizens on worldwide income, whether or not they are resident in the United States. To deter tax avoidance by abandonment of...

, which taxes unrealized gains above $600,000, anywhere in the world. However this will only apply to those people who have a federal tax liability greater than $139,000 a year or have a worth of more than $2 million or have failed to certify to the IRS that they have been in compliance with U.S. federal tax obligations for the past five years.

If the green card is not relinquished then the holder is subject to double taxation when living or working outside of the United States, whether or not within their home nation, although double taxation may be mitigated by foreign tax credit
Foreign tax credit
Income tax systems that tax residents on worldwide income generally offer a foreign tax credit to mitigate the potential for double taxation. The credit may also be granted in those systems taxing residents on income that may have been taxed in another jurisdiction...

s.

See also

  • Blue Card (European Union)
    Blue Card (European Union)
    The Blue Card aka Blue European Labour Card is an approved EU-wide work permit allowing high-skilled non-EU citizens to work and live in any country within the European Union, excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom, which are not subject to the proposal...

  • Canada Permanent Resident Card
    Canada Permanent Resident Card
    The Permanent Resident Card was introduced on 28 June 2002 upon the implementation of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act...

  • Immigration to the United States
    Immigration to the United States
    Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

  • United States citizenship

US Government immigration sites

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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