The United States Permanent Resident Card, better understood as the Green Card, is the identification card of individuals who live permanently in the United States but are not U.S. citizens. It is the proof that the person is legally permissible to stay and work in the United States and acquires most of the rights of a U.S. citizen. Its original name was Alien Registration Receipt Card which is now called the Permanent Resident Card or form I-551 or simply Green Card.
Originally, the Permanent Resident Card is green thus the name green card. But over the years, the card’s color has been replaced several times. By 2005, the lettering at the back of the card is the only prominent part of the card that is green and the rest it white. Still, the green card marks its title to the card and the current name in use. It contains the name and photograph plus other information of the holder. The card has also been improved a number of times to avoid counterfeiting.
The rule on the green card holder is simple. When in the United States, the holder should posses the green card at all times. This is important to avoid trouble when asked by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. This is one particular requirement of the law of the United States. Of course, the U.S. citizens need not to carry identification. This is simply because citizens have far greater constitutional rights than green card holders who are still considered as aliens. The rule to carry the card however does not exist before September 11, 2001 unless the person is coming from foreign trip where he/she needs to present the card upon re-entry to the United States. After September 11, 2001, this rule has been enforced that even when the green card holder is traveling domestically or residing in the country. The US Department of Homeland Security is the one responsible to randomly check residents if they are citizens or not then ask for the green card when needed.
Before, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) are the ones who issue green cards but it was later absorbed and replaced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS is formerly known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services or the BCIS which is still under the Department of Homeland Security
Getting a green card though requires a thorough and long process. It may even take years to get it. However, the application still depends on the type of criteria the applicant falls in and what country the applicant has come from. And even if he/she is most suited to become green card holder, there is a definite number of approvals per year with unlimited number of applicants.
To be eligible for a green card application, the applicant must fall in at least one of the following criteria:
One, there should be an employer ready to sponsor your to the whole green card application process. Two, you have a relative with U.S. citizenship. Three, you won the green card lottery. Four, you happen to be married with a U.S. citizen. And five, you have invested at least $500,000 on U.S. land and have created 5 full-time jobs. Other qualifications for green card are, asylum, refugee, special immigrants, adoption, private bill, and registry.