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A green card, sometimes called a permanent resident card, is a type of immigrant visa that can let you live and work legally in the United States. The permanent residency also allows you to enjoy many benefits that US citizens themselves enjoy. If you want to chase your dream in the Land of the Free, a green card offers you the opportunity to do so and also opens up the path to US citizenship.

If this sounds like something you want to pursue, read on as we discuss the green card steps as well as a brief overview of what a green card can do for you. If you need help with American immigration laws, get in touch with our Tustin immigration office. Our skilled attorneys can help solve whatever immigration problems you may have!


  1. Green Card Overview
    • Benefits of a Green Card
    • Who is Eligible for a Green Card
    • Difference between permanent residence and citizenship
  2. Green Card Application Steps
    • Sponsor submits petition
    • Beneficiary submits application
    • Biometrics appointment
    • Green card interview
    • Receive decision on the green card application


Green Card Overview

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the entity charged with the approval of green card applications. When you get your green card, you will be considered a lawful permanent resident. 


Benefits of a Green Card

Once you gain your permanent resident status, you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • The freedom to live and work anywhere in the United States without fear of deportation.
  • The ability to sponsor other family members’ green cards.
  • The chance to be eligible for federal benefits such as education assistance or social security.


Who is Eligible for a Green Card?

Here are the categories of people who are eligible to be a green card holder:

The most common ways to get a green card are through sponsorship by a family member or a US employer. If you want to know if you’re eligible for a green card, talk to our knowledgeable Tustin immigration attorneys for more information!


Is There a Difference between Green Card and Citizenship?

A green card holder is not the same as a United States citizen. A green card only shows that USCIS has allowed you to permanently stay in the US. 

There are certain rights that US citizens have that permanent residents do not enjoy, such as the right to vote in the national elections. However, being a permanent resident for three to five years can give you the chance to apply for naturalization and become a US citizen.


How to Apply for a Green Card

There are different steps you’ll have to take depending on the category you’ll file under. Nevertheless, the general green card process should look something like this for all categories:


1. Sponsor submits petition

This step is usually for those undergoing employment-based and family-based immigration. 

For those in the employment category, a US employer must sponsor your green card application.

For a family-based category, a US citizen or lawful permanent resident family member must petition on your behalf. 


2. Beneficiary submits application

Once USCIS approves your sponsors’ petition, then it’s your turn to submit the paperwork. There is a yearly quota for each green card category and you may have to wait for your visa number before you can submit your application. 

There are many required documents for the application process including birth certificates and tax returns. The USCIS website lists all the necessary information for your application


There are two paths to submit your application:

Only people already inside the US qualify for a status adjustment. This simply changes your status from a nonimmigrant to an immigrant. 

This option is available both for those outside the country and those still in the US. The US embassy or consulate of your home country deals with the immigration process with you. 


3. Biometrics Appointment

For this step, the US embassy or USCIS will contact you to schedule a biometrics appointment. This involves collecting your photograph, fingerprints, and signature.

The US government will then analyze your biometrics and compare it to the database by the FBI to confirm that you’re not involved in criminal activity. 


4. Green card interview

This is the last step before immigration authorities will decide whether to reject or accept your application. The interview usually takes place at the US consulate or embassy, or the USCIS office. 

The questions depend on which category you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a green card through marriage, expect questions regarding the validity of your relationship, such as how you met or details about your wedding. Marriage-based applicants usually receive more rigorous questioning to prevent fraud. Other categories may be much easier, but it’s still important to answer the questions correctly.

This step usually makes or breaks your path to a green card. It’s important to get it right the first time so you don’t have to spend time and money processing your application again. A skilled immigration attorney will help prepare you for the green card interview. Call our Tustin law office now for immigration help!

5. Wait for the Decision

After you’ve completed the interview process, the US government will then decide whether to accept your application. This can happen either at the interview itself or shortly right after. You can check the status of your application through the USCIS website. 


Final Thoughts

The permanent resident card lets you live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. It’s a crucial document that proves you are legally allowed to stay in the country. If you want to reach for your dreams in the Land of Opportunity, you’ll have to correctly follow the application process or risk a delay or even rejection of your application. 

If you’re aspiring to become a lawful permanent resident (and one day, a US citizen), it’s important to get your application done properly. Our immigration lawyers at Diener Law can help you achieve your immigration dreams. 

We’ve helped many immigrants, including immigrant families and children of immigrants, get legal status. We can help you on your path to citizenship so you can live life comfortably after your immigration into the United States. What are you waiting for? For immigration solutions, call our Tustin immigration law firm today!


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