There are plenty of green card benefits one can list in this type of discussion. The major include freedom to reside anywhere in the U.S., freedom to leave and return to the U.S., ability to avoid getting visa to certain countries other than U.S., freedom to work in the U.S., start, run or own a business in the U.S. or become a licensed professional, ability to contribute to political campaigns, ability to eventually become a U.S. citizen and to sponsor your relatives. For a fuller list of green card benefits please read below. In short it is worth the wait (see Green Card Processing Times).
To learn more about the green card, check out Green Card Definition: Complete Test of Your Eligibility and Wondering How to Immigrate to USA?
Green Card Benefits: Freedom to Reside Anywhere in the U.S.
Among the green card privileges, one can list the right to reside anywhere within the United States – quite literally any state one chooses to live in. There are 50 of them, and virtually all enjoy their own culture, climate, population demographics, ethnic composition, taxes and laws. Here is another item to keep in mind, while the U.S. national language is English, some states are open to foreign languages, especially Spanish. Such states include California, Florida and New York, among others. And another consideration that may be important is state’s friendliness towards new immigrants and green card holders. States differ – do your research!
Green Card Benefits: Freedom to Leave and Return to the U.S.
One of the most sought after green card benefits is the freedom to travel within the United States and to leave America and return to America at will. If you maintain your proper immigration status and violate no immigration or other laws, the border control officers can’t prevent a green card holder from entering America.
Green Card Benefits: Lenient Visa Requirements When Visiting Certain Countries
One of the less obvious green card benefit is the freedom of travel globally. Depending on your home country’s passport, you may or may not know the hassle of international travel, which include the requirement to obtain travel visas before leaving the U.S. for your destinations. Visas are entry documents designed to ensure that the visitors are in the country only temporarily and they have sufficient draw (or reasons to return) to your home country. However, many countries globally acknowledge that having a green card is a special immigration benefit that implies that its holder will return to the United States. And they grant exceptions to obtaining visitor visa if one can produce his or her U.S. green card at the port of entry. While this list is not meant to be all-inclusive, complete and accurate, it is our understanding that the following countries would not require you to obtain a visa prior to your trip if you have a green card: Canada, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Dominical Republic, Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba, Jamaica. Please note you should consult your destination visitor requirements because ultimately it is your passport that will drive your visa requirements.
Green Card Benefits: Freedom to Work in the U.S.
Another right that many immigrants find valuable is the right to legally work in the United States and earn wages prevalent within the area where they choose to reside. More often than not, such wages tend to be higher than an immigrant’s home country’s wages. While some may argue that workers in the U.S. enjoy only limited protection against being laid off, laborers in the U.S. enjoy pretty robust labor market. In many cases, if one seeks waged work, after being laid off, the immigrant can move on and find another employment that would bring home cash.
Green Card Benefits: Permanent Immigrant Status
Another name for the green card holder status is a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Once granted by the USCIS, the permanent resident status stays with the resident for the rest of this or her life. The caveat, however, is that the green card document typically has 10 year life and every 10 year one has to submit paperwork to renew the green card. The current green card is required for international travel, for renewal of drivers license and some other activities requiring formal demonstration of the proper ID (eg opening a bank account in some states). One can lose the LPR status by abandoning residency in the United States without securing an exception from the USCIS or by committing and getting convicted of a crime.
Green Card Benefits: Freedom to Start, Run and Own Your Business
As important as being able to work, the green card holders enjoy legal rights to start and run his or her own business. The ease of opening a business in the U.S. is well recognized, so that if you are not happy with your job, you can quit and pursue the career of an entrepreneur and the business owner. A green card holder can legally own a corporation (c-corp, s-corp) or LLC (a limited liability company).
Green Card Benefits: Freedom to Become Certified Professional
Certain professional designations and certifications are only available to green card holders and this is another green card benefit to list here. For example, certain states may require you to have a green card holders before a real estate broker or insurance sales license can be issued to the immigrant.
Green Card Benefits: Ability to Affect Political Processes in the U.S.
Although a green card holder cannot vote in the United State, he or she can influence political processes in America primarily through legal financial contributions to political campaigns. Most immigrants seeking green cards would probably not worry a lot about this right, but for some who has money to spend and who wants to have their voices heard, it may be an important consideration. While it may be hard to affect elections on the federal level, making financial contributions to local politicians and their campaigns as well as engaging with them about your political agenda may produce desired sought after results.
Green Card Benefits: Ability to Naturalize or Become U.S. Citizen
Another privilege that green card grants is a clearly defined legal path towards naturalization (check out Naturalization Through Marriage Green Card), or a path to citizenship. While for many citizenship is less important that ability to live and work in the U.S., for some being able to secure certain rights of a U.S. citizen is of paramount importance. These rights include voting and ability to hold certain public offices (be elected public or government official). Most green card holders can seek naturalization within five years of holding a green card.
Green Card Benefits: Ability to Sponsor Relatives
Another green card benefit that many immigrants seek is the ability to sponsor relatives for green card so that your relatives can join you in residing in the United States. This benefit and right is not as inclusive as it is for a U.S. citizens. However, you can certainly sponsor your immediate family such as your spouse or underage children.
Green Card Benefits: Ability to Apply for Certain Legal and Financial Benefits
Certain legal rights become available to green card holders otherwise not available to temporary legal or illegal visitors. Depending on the state and the type of green card you secured, the green card status may give you access to social benefits such as public research and educational grants, tax benefits, social security, health coverage and retirement benefits. Some federal or state educational programs will offer you subsidized (e.g., in-state) tuition or tuition-free education if you are able to produce a green card.
Green Card Benefits: Ease of Doing Business and Owning Assets
Among most sought after green card benefits are economic and business benefits. While these benefits may not be spelled out in federal, state of municipal laws, they are being enforced by the businesses, who accept you as a client or a counterparty. If you can produce a green card, they will give you access to banking system, credit and other economic tools otherwise not available for temporary visitors. For example, it is hard to open a checking account if you are not able to produce a green card in some states. It is hard to get a car loan to buy a car and virtually impossible to get a mortgage to buy a house without a green card. One other benefit that green card offers is the ability to legally own firearms.
Green Card Benefits: Access to Certain Restricted Facilities
The access privileges are probably a less known among green card benefits. Here we refer to certain U.S. government run and controlled buildings, properties and objects which may require special security clearance to be able to enter. Examples may include certain airport and other travel facilities otherwise not open to public. These also may include power plants or certain NASA-run facilities. While for many immigrants these privileges are not of significant consequences, some may find these beneficial.