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Queens Immigration Law
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What You Should Know About Green Cards

USA Permanent Resident card aka Green Card and dollar banknotes

What exactly is a “Green Card”? It’s documentation that you are a “lawful permanent resident” of the United States, entitled to live and work here without fear of deportation so long as your card is valid and you don’t commit any violations of U.S. immigration law. But there is a lot more to know about Green Cards than that. Read on to learn what it takes to be eligible for a Green Card, an overview of the application process, and the rights and responsibilities of Green Card holders. For help obtaining a Green Card or applying for immigration benefits, assistance with a change of status, to defend against deportation or removal proceedings, or for any other immigration legal matter in New York, call Queens Immigration Law, Gladstein & Messinger P.C., to speak with a skilled and experienced immigration lawyer.

Understanding Green Cards

A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued by the U.S. government that grants immigrants the right to live and work permanently in the United States. It’s the stepping stone toward achieving the American dream for many non-citizens.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for a Green Card varies depending on individual circumstances. Common categories include:

  • Family-Based Immigration: This is one of the most common pathways. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor certain family members for a Green Card.
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Professionals with specific skills, valuable qualifications, or who are filling employment gaps in the U.S. economy may be eligible. This pathway typically requires sponsorship from an employer, although individuals can self-sponsor in certain circumstances.
  • Refugee or Asylee Status: Individuals granted refugee or asylum status can apply for a Green Card one year after their designation.
  • Diversity Lottery: This program offers Green Cards to citizens of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
  • Special Categories: These include victims of abuse, human trafficking victims, and others falling under specific legislative acts.

Application Process

The Green Card application process generally involves the following steps:

  1. Eligibility Category: Identify your eligibility category.
  2. Petition: A petition, usually filed by a family member or employer, must be submitted and approved.
  3. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: Depending on your current status and location, you will undergo either an adjustment of status or consular processing.
  4. Biometrics Appointment: This involves fingerprinting and background checks.
  5. Interview: An interview may be required, depending on the category.
  6. Approval and Issuance: If approved, the Green Card is issued.

Important Considerations

  • Processing Times: These vary widely based on the category, the applicant’s country of origin, and the current U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) workload.
  • Fees: Application fees are required and can be substantial.
  • Legal Assistance: Due to the complex nature of immigration law, seeking legal guidance is often beneficial.

Rights and Responsibilities of Green Card Holders


  • Permanent Residence: You can live permanently in the U.S.
  • Work: You are authorized to work in the United States.
  • Protection: You’re protected by all laws of the United States, your state of residence, and local jurisdictions.
  • Sponsor Family Members: You can sponsor certain relatives for their own Green Cards.


  • Obey the Law: You must obey all laws of the United States, states, and localities.
  • Tax Obligations: You are required to file income tax returns and report your income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities.
  • Support the Government: You should support the democratic form of government and not attempt to change the government through illegal means.
  • Selective Service: Male Green Card holders between 18 and 25 are required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System.

Renewal and Loss of Permanent Resident Status

Green Cards are typically valid for ten years. It’s important to renew your card before it expires. However, be aware that certain actions can lead to the loss of permanent resident status, such as committing serious crimes or abandoning your residency by living outside the U.S. for extended periods.

Contact Queens Immigration Law for Help With Green Card Issues in New York

Understanding Green Card regulations and processes is vital for those seeking permanent residency in the U.S. While this guide provides an overview, immigration law can be complex and subject to change. For personalized guidance and assistance with your Green Card application or related matters, consider consulting with an experienced immigration attorney. Their expertise can be invaluable in navigating the intricate pathways of U.S. immigration law, ensuring that your journey toward permanent residency is as smooth and successful as possible. In New York, call Queens Immigration Law, Gladstein & Messinger P.C., at 718-793-7800 or 800-339-0535 to speak with a lawyer today.

For specific advice and legal services related to Green Cards and U.S. immigration law, do not hesitate to contact our firm. Our team is dedicated to providing tailored assistance to meet your unique immigration needs.

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