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A Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants a person a permanent resident card, commonly called a “Green Card.”
You can become a permanent resident several different ways. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the United States. Other individuals may become permanent residents through refugee or asylee status or other humanitarian programs. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.
Benefits of a Permanent Resident Card or Green Card Holder:
1. You can sponsor immediate relatives
If you hold a US Green Card, it gives you the chance to sponsor your immediate family members and give them the ability to stay in the United States with you. “Immediate family members” are defined by US Immigration as unmarried children under 21 years old, parents, and spouses. Take a look at our glossary for more immigration-related definitions.
It could also be possible to sponsor an extended family member through the Preferred Family category. That will make it easier for them to receive residency status themselves.
2. Attend university for less
Many colleges, universities, and vocational schools in the United States charge out-of-state and international students higher tuition fees. There are states where it could amount to over 50% more tuition per year. With a Green Card, you are considered an in-state resident and can save money on college tuition.
As a permanent legal resident, you are also eligible to apply for – and receive – federal financial aid for your education. You might also qualify for significant financial aid from the government to pay for your studies, which can diminish – if not eliminate – tuition costs.
3. Contribute to political campaigns
Politics are an important part of American life. Americans consider being active politically to be a virtue. While only naturalized and natural-born American citizens are able to vote in local, state, and federal elections, the U.S Federal Election Committee does allow for Green Card holders to contribute financially to their favoured political party.
Outside of voting, contributing to your chosen party is one way to make your voice heard on the important issues that matter to you and your loved ones even though you can’t vote.
4. Easier travel in and out of the United States
One of the best benefits of having a Green Card is that it makes traveling in and out of the United States so much easier compared to having a temporary visa or a student visa. US Immigration services are required to admit all Green Card holders because the card is a symbol of their permanent lawful status in the country. This is one of the many problems that comes with having an expired green card, which is one reason it is so important to renew your green card well before the expiration date.
Please note that you could run into additional problems if you stay out of the country for a period of six months or more. US Immigration will then have the right to question if you really plan to make the United States your permanent place of residence. They may even choose to revoke your Green Card.
5. Qualify to receive social security benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA), which is primarily funded through payroll taxes, offers economic security to retired and disabled people, as well as their families. Around 1 in 4 American families rely on social security benefits. These benefits range from food and childcare assistance to medical care assistance.
Green Card holders are able to qualify for these social security benefits through their permanent resident status. For example, a green card holder who has over ten years of work experience can claim retirement benefits after working in the United States for ten years.
6. Better career opportunities
Another advantage of having a Green Card is access to better career opportunities. While the average immigrant would need to be sponsored for their work visa by the company they work for, a Green Card holding permanent legal resident is free to work at just about any company in the United States. They are also able to establish a company of their own or become an entrepreneur if they so choose.
7. Less official paperwork to fill out
Unlike other kinds of residency permits that have to be renewed either annually or biannually, a Green Card only needs to be renewed once every ten years. The renewal process for Green Cards starts around six months before the expiry date on the card, which is when you need to fill out the Form I-90 and submit it to the USCIS.