Authorization to permanently live and work in the U.S., known as a green card, is a document that grants the individual lawful permanent resident status. Lawful permanent residents are not full citizens, but they do have permission to remain in the United States indefinitely.
A permanent resident card, colloquially known as a green card, is a document that demonstrates an immigrant’s status as a lawful permanent resident. A green card authorizes the holder to live and work permanently in the United States.
There are four main paths to lawful permanent resident status: family, employment, the diversity lottery, and asylum. The family route allows an immediate relative of a lawful permanent resident or citizen to gain lawful permanent residency. The employment route allows an employer to sponsor an immigrant for lawful permanent resident status. Both the family route and the employment route have a tiered priority system that restricts who gets a green card and when.
The diversity lottery randomly allows certain immigrants from countries with historically low immigration rates to the U.S. to begin the lawful permanent residency process. Finally, the asylum process allows individuals who have a legitimate fear of persecution or torture in their home country to enter the U.S. as refugees and become lawful permanent residents.
A green card can be renewed either online or on paper. The U.S. Center for Immigration Services has an online portal that allows lawful permanent residents to use their USCIS account to pay fees and request a new green card digitally. Alternatively, individuals can fill out Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card and manually submit the filing fee and any required evidence.
According to the USCIS, the processing time for a green card application is around 18 months. Depending on how busy the agency is, this may be longer or shorter.
Depending on the exact method of acquiring a green card the associated application and processing fees can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Some fees will also be required for sponsors or individuals writing an affidavit of support.