Green Card Benefits and Responsibilities

Most people refer to the process of obtaining permanent residency status for immigration purposes as "getting their green card." The green card is a card that is issued as proof that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted its approval for you to be in the United States as a permanent resident. It is called a green card because prior to 1978, the residency cards that were issued had a greenish color. The green card is no longer green anymore, however. The green card can be white, pink or multi-colored. Regardless, the effect of the card is still the same - it is evidence that you have been approved for permanent residency status. 

Green Card Benefits

After you have been issued a green card, or permanent residency status, you can live and work anywhere in the United States. You do not have to apply for a separate work visa to get a job. Travel permits are not required between states. You also have the right to apply for a driver’s license and attend college. If you have family members, you can apply for visas for your spouse and unmarried children.

Green Card Terms and Responsibilities

Keep in mind that a green card or permanent resident card represents your legal status in the United States. It is similar to having a driver’s license. As long as you follow the terms and responsibilities and renew your green card on a regular basis, you will remain in status and a lawful permanent resident.

Responsibilities include registering for selective service, obtaining a Social Security card, and paying income taxes. If you fail to renew your green card as required, you could fall "out-of-status," which means that your presence in the United States would be considered illegal. If you have gone through the trouble of getting a green card, make sure that you stay on top of any renewal or residency requirements.

Hiring an Immigration Attorney

If you do not understand what you are required to do, or how you are supposed to comply with any of your green card requirements, consult an immigration attorney before you fall out-of-status and lose valuable opportunities.