“What is a green card?” is probably the most frequent question one asks when he or she just start learning about the United States immigration process. According to Green Card Definition: Complete Test of Your Eligibility, “green card holder is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As a proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a ‘green card.’” The short of it, the green card is the document that grants one person certain immigration privileges in America together with certain responsibilities. It is very often referred to as permanent resident card or lawful permanent resident card. These concepts are the same.
Before reading further, check out Wondering How to Immigrate to USA? - Green Card Through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen; Want to Learn about Green Card Application Process? Here is What You Need to Know; Green Card Through Investment and Green Card Through Child in the United States.
What is a Green Card: Your Rights and Green Card Benefits
We write about the green card benefits and recognize that these include freedom to travel within, to and from the United States, ability to work and own businesses in America, as well the opportunity to enjoy certain subsidized education. Some green card holders cherish the opportunity to sponsor green card for their relatives so that the entire family can live in the United States. Some value an opportunity to eventually become American citizens and exercise their right to vote, while others enjoy the opportunity American businesses and economy offer to conduct commerce. Yet, all these benefits do not come without a price: All green card benefits come with responsibilities.
What is a Green Card: Your Responsibilities
While green card comes with numerous benefits, it also puts many responsibilities on its holders. For example, green card holders generally are required to reside within the United States. Green card is not a travel document for the ease of entering and leaving the U.S. In most cases, you are required to live at least 180 days out of the year in America. If you don’t, the U.S. government typically considers your green card as abandoned and you lose your immigration privileges.
Living in the U.S. permanently makes a green card holder an American subject from the perspective of taxes. In other words, you have to pay American income and other taxes, which may be on the top of the taxes you pay at your home country.
Maintaining proper legal immigration status is another responsibility of the green card holder. Among other things, the green card holder has to keep USCIS up to date on his or her mailing and physical address. On the other hand, the green card is the primary identification document for any immigrant to the United States, and one has to keep it current. This involves filing periodic paperwork with the USCIS (in most cases, once in 10 years), attending biometric appointments to submit and pay certain fees.
Another responsibility of the green card holder is to abide by American federal and state laws. While some misdemeanors (e.g., speeding tickets) may not put the immigrant in hot waters with immigration authorities, certain felonies (crimes) may have serious implications for one’s green card. Some crimes may result in fines, probations, community service or even jail. While they may not result in immediate deportation, when time comes to renew your green card however many years down the road, having a criminal record will most likely prevent you from getting your new green card and you will have to leave the United States. And if you refuse to depart voluntarily, you will be deported.
Learn more about how to apply for your green card and how to prepare for your USCIS interview at your immigration appointment with the Guide to Green Card Through Marriage.