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What is a green card, and who is eligible for one?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2021 | immigration law

Of the many terms, statuses and documents associated with the immigration process, the green card is not only a familiar concept, but it is also something that is highly valued in immigrant communities.

Most people have a general sense of what a green card is, though fewer have a thorough understanding of its function, who can get one and how, and whether it is revocable once issued.

The green card

A green card is a piece of identification that proves permanent resident status for aliens in the United States that allows them to reside in the country indefinitely. However, it does not prove American citizenship. Those holding a green card remain citizens of their home country. The green card gets its name from having been originally printed on green paper.

Eligibility

While obtaining a green card through employment is possible, the more common method is via sponsorship by an American family member. To become eligible for a green card, an immigrant must have a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or be the unmarried child of a U.S. citizen. When this is the case, the relative can sponsor them and petition for their permanent resident status.

Revocation

If a green card holder commits a crime, is guilty of fraud in the application process, or even fails to update their records with a new address, they may have the green card revoked and face deportation. Without a green card, the citizenship application is difficult.

The path to U.S. citizenship is a long one, but obtaining a green card is an important step in the process.