Green Cards & Permanent Residence Status
Permanent residents of the United States enjoy the rights to live and work permanently in the United States. After holding permanent resident status for 5 years (3 years if married to a U.S. citizen), permanent residents are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
There are a number of different ways that you may qualify to apply for permanent resident status, including an application through a family member or through an employer. You might also qualify if you have been granted refugee or asylum status, have been the victim of a crime in the United States, or have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent.
If you are outside the United States, then you may qualify to apply for an immigrant visa. After entering the United States on an immigrant visa, you will receive your green card. Please visit our Immigrant Visas page for more information.
In order to qualify for permanent resident status while in the United States, you must meet certain requirements. Some of the most important requirements include:
- You must have entered the United States lawfully. There are certain exceptions to this requirement.
- Your permission to remain in the United States must not have expired. There are exceptions to this requirement, depending on your family relationship.
- You must not have criminal convictions for certain types of crimes. This area of the law is complex, and it is extremely important that we review all of your past encounters with law enforcement officials and courts, to determine your eligibility for permanent residence.
You may qualify for permanent residence based on a family relationship if you are:
- a spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident,
- a son or daughter of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident,
- a parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years of age, or
- a brother or sister of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years of age.
If you are a spouse, son, or daughter of a person who is eligible to apply for permanent resident status, then you also may be eligible to apply.
In most cases, U.S. immigration officials recognize any marriage that was lawfully conducted in the place where the marriage took place, including same-sex marriages.
U.S. immigration officials, however, do not recognize marriages to more than one person at the same time. In other words, in order to have your marriage legally recognized by U.S. immigration officials, all previous marriages must be terminated prior to your current marriage.This document does not provide legal advice, and is intended only as a general introduction. Please contact us for more information.