You are a Permanent Resident of the United States & have the Green Card – now what?

You are a Permanent Resident of the United States & have the Green Card – now what?

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Connie Kaplan

Once the first immigration process is done and you have your green card in hand you can breathe a sigh of relief. You might feel like you have finally landed and this is now home, but this is just the beginning: It is a door you have just opened and now comes the part where you have to take the next steps – to know your rights and learn how to take advantage of having a Green Card.

As a permanent resident you can:

  • Live permanently in the United States, as long as you do not commit any actions that would make you removable under immigration law
  • Work in the United States at any workplace of your qualification and choosing. (For security reasons, some jobs will still be for U.S. citizens only.)
  • Be protected by all the laws of the United States, your state and locality of residence.

There are countless places to see and explore, and you get the chance to settle in the state that you believe works best for you. Each of the 50 states has different tax laws, cost of living, and earning potential. With a green card you can travel to any of the states without a passport as long as you have your state ID or your green card. 

That is not all: there are countries that offer visa waivers for U.S. Green Card Holders. Countries such as Canada and Mexico fall under the “good neighbor policy,” which means regardless of your country of citizenship you can enter Canada and Mexico without a visa (you still need a valid foreign passport along with the green card).

Once you have settled and explored, and a few years have passed as a permanent resident you have the chance to apply to become naturalized and become a U.S. citizen.  If you have maintained a continuous presence in the United States as a green card holder for five years, you may apply for naturalization. The naturalization process requires that you are a permanent resident for five years, been physically present for 30 months out of the five years, been a resident of their current jurisdiction for three months, demonstrate a familiarity with United States civics, and be a person of good moral character. If you decide to become a U.S. Citizen, it is advisable to consult with an attorney because some countries do not permit individuals to hold dual citizenship and there may be other issues preventing you from applying or obtaining citizenship.

There are countless reasons why being a citizen would benefit you:

  • You can apply for jobs with the U.S. Government
  • You can travel to more than 180 countries with one of the most powerful passports in the world
  • You can vote in any U.S. Election
  • You can run for elected office
  • You can obtain federal benefits like financial aid for attending college
  • You can petition for your relatives
  • You can no longer be deported and don’t have to deal with immigration or its never ending paperwork.

To learn more about the options and how to plan your future to becoming a U.S. Citizen, contact us.

More from Green Cards, USCIS

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