Permanent Residence “Green Card” FAQ

What type of visa should I get if I want to become a permanent resident?

To become a permanent resident, you need to get an “immigrant” visa, such as the kind offered to spouses or family members of current U.S. citizens, or those who immigrate to the U.S. for work.

What is the difference between an “immigrant” and a “non-immigrant” visa?

A: Immigrant visas are given to people who intend to stay in the United States permanently. Non-immigrant visas are given to people who intend to stay temporarily, such as for educational purposes, or to obtain medical treatment.

What happens if I overstay my visa?

If you stay in the United States longer than your visa permits, you could not only be deported but also barred from seeking a visa again in the future. If your visa is about to expire, you may be able to apply for an extension through USCIS.

Can I renew my visa or apply for another visa after it expires?

Typically, no, unless you applied for an extension before it expired.

What is a Green Card?

A “Green Card” is the colloquial term for a Lawful Permanent Resident Card, which indicates your ability to legally stay in the United States indefinitely, despite not being a U.S. citizen.

How do I get a Green Card?

There are many ways to obtain a Green Card. If you want to know more, please contact an immigration attorney for a consultation.

How long will my Green Card remain valid?

Green Cards remains valid indefinitely but must be renewed once every ten years, with some exceptions.

Can I apply for a Green Card if I do not have an immigrant visa?

In some circumstances. For example, there are “humanitarian” Green Cards that are awarded to refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, and other victims of violent crime. In addition, there is a “diversity lottery” which randomly awards up to 50,000 people per year with Green Cards.

If I have a child who is a U.S. citizen, can I obtain legal status in the U.S.?

Yes, potentially, but it is a long process. Your child with U.S. citizenship must be at least 21 before they can petition on your behalf.

What does it mean to be a “legal permanent resident”?

If you are a legal permanent resident (in other words, if you have a Green Card), you can remain in the United States indefinitely even though you are not a citizen. You may work in any profession you are qualified for, and you receive the full protection of U.S. law.

Can I be deported as a legal permanent resident?

Yes, if you commit a “crime of moral turpitude.” This is defined as a crime that is “done recklessly or with evil intent, and which shocks the public conscience as inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between people or to society in general.”

Can you still receive your Green Card if you had a prior apprehension at the border?

Yes, but you should speak to an immigration attorney to do a Freedom of Information Act request to find out more information about your type of apprehension.