What Is a Green Card and What Does it Authorize?

What Is a Green Card and What Does it Authorize?

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Law, Published On
January 10, 2023

A green card is a permanent resident status granted by the United States government to an alien in which they are authorized to live and work in the US indefinitely. The card provides the holder with many rights that differ from those of a temporary visitor, including the right to hold a job, enter and leave the country, travel within its borders, and vote. The card does not grant political or civic rights such as voting for president or being able to hold public office.

What Is a Green Card and What Does it Authorize?

What Is a Green Card and What Does it Authorize?

One of the known uses of the term “green card” is for cards that are signed with green ink. In the United States, to sign a document in green ink was originally reserved for documents prepared by government agencies such as the Federal Reserve Bank, but today it is also used informally as a metaphor for making an investment or moving forward with an idea. In the US, green card holders are sometimes described as “resident aliens.” Both green cards and blue cards are given to individuals who are permitted to live in the United States under the terms of a visa or other legal authorization, such as a work visa. A blue cardholder is not a permanent resident of the United States but can attend school, work, and obtain benefits or services in the country. Any changes to immigration status are handled through an application process with an immigration lawyer.

What is a Permanent Resident?

Permanent resident status is an immigration status given to foreign nationals who have been granted permission to live permanently in the U.S. It often compares with the terms “permanent resident alien” (Green Card) and “temporary resident alien” (Blue Card). Any immigrant that has met the requirements of a green card may apply for permanent residency through naturalization in the United States after living there for at least five years. Permanent residents are eligible for United States citizenship after living there for a total of 8 years. Permanent residents may also apply for an immigrant visa, which can be obtained by sponsorship from a family member or employer.

Who Can Apply for a Green Card?

A green card is available to foreign nationals who have been granted a visa, an immigration status that allows for temporary or permanent residence in the U.S. There are two categories of green cards: immigrant or nonimmigrant (green card visas). The green card designations are not applied to individuals who do not have permission to come and stay in the United States under any visa category. Therefore, applicants must be classified as either “nonimmigrant” or “immigrant” based on their visa classification.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) classifies the rules for immigration to the United States. There are several categories of visas, including temporary visas that support tourist visits, student or research visas, and employment-based visas. The law also creates an immigrant visa classification that allows foreign nationals to come to the U.S. on a temporary basis without any visa classification, such as a guest workers visa.

How is a Green Card Obtained?

The Green Card is a permanent resident card that allows individuals from countries other than the U.S. to enter and live in the country. There are several ways to gain permanent resident status. The most common being through family sponsorship or employer sponsorship. After being given permission for permanent residency, one must apply for naturalization status in order to become an American citizen and enjoy all of the rights of a U.S. citizen, including voting, holding public office, obtaining firearms, and owning real estate.

The green card allows an alien to live and work permanently in the United States. The holder is entitled to all rights and privileges of any U.S. citizen, including the right to vote, hold elected office, own property, attend school, receive government benefits such as social security and obtain a U.S. passport. Green card holders can be deported if they commit certain offenses or violate laws while in the country.

What Does Admissibility Mean in Relation to Green Card Applications?

Admissibility is the legal determination of whether an alien is eligible for admission into the country. Adjudication refers to decisions made based on the evidence presented by an applicant and law enforcement officials to determine if an individual meets both criteria for deportation as well as if they are a threat to national security or public safety. These decisions may also include evidence of criminal activity that is unrelated to unlawful presence in the United States.

An applicant will be considered inadmissible if they have been convicted of any offenses related to the possession, use, or distribution of drugs. They may also be considered inadmissible if they have been convicted of multiple criminal offenses, even if those convictions are not drug-related. Admissibility is also affected by any involvement with prostitution and domestic violence, regardless of whether the conviction was related to either.


If you have ever considered moving to the United States, now is a perfect time. Immigration opportunities are at an all-time high, and getting a green card is easier than ever before. If you are eligible for an immigrant visa, then right now might be the best time to apply.

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