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What Is a Green Card?

What you need to know about green cards.

A U.S. permanent resident card is commonly known as a “green card.” With a green card, you are permitted to live and work in the United States. Holders of green cards are known as lawful permanent residents of the US.

Keep in mind that when you get your green card, you will gain certain rights, but you will also bear some important responsibilities.

Your rights as a green card holder.

  • You can live permanently in the U.S. as long as you do not commit actions (such as criminal activity) that can make you removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • You can join and serve in the U.S. military, including most law enforcement agencies.
  • You are allowed to work almost anywhere in the U.S. depending on your skills and qualifications.
  • You will be protected equally by U.S. law, your state of residence, and local authorities.
  • You are permitted to travel freely outside the U.S. for up to a year as a tourist.
  • You can petition (or sponsor) family members (spouse and unmarried children of any age) to immigrate to the U.S. as lawful permanent residents.

Your responsibilities when you have a green card.

  • You must obey all laws of the U.S., including state laws and local jurisdictions.
  • You are required to file income tax returns, pay taxes, and report income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state tax agencies.
  • If you are male and aged 18 to 25, you must register with the Selective Service System (an agency of the U.S. Government that maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription.)

After living continuously in the U.S., a green card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship.

Green Card Winners, A. & P. Huertas

Green Card Winners, A. & P. Huertas