Green Card Law and Legal Definition

A green card is a term used for the alien registration card that is carried by permanent resident aliens in the United States. Permanent resident status is a first step in becoming a naturalized citizen. It is evidence of a person's status as a lawful permanent resident with the right to live and work permanently in the United States. There is no time restriction, as long as the Green Card holder is a permanent resident of the USA.

There are several ways you can obtain a Green Card:

  • Marriage to a United States citizen
  • Through Investment
  • Through Employment
  • As a Special Immigrant
  • Green Card Lottery (DV Lottery Program)

For example, every year the United States Government issues 50,000 Green Cards through the DV Lottery Program. Applicants are chosen randomly by a computer-generated drawing.

Another way to obtain a green card is to marry a U.S citizen. Each year thousands of American citizens marry foreign-born persons and petition for them to obtain a permanent residency in the United States. Spouses of U.S. citizens are considered "immediate relatives" under immigration laws, and are, therefore, excluded from all numerical quota limitations.