Getting Your Green Card: What Does a Green Card Entitle You To?

Green card word

If you plan on moving to the United States full time, you’re going to be in need of a green card. 

You might be wondering if it’s worth it. Why not just get temporary visas and remain flexible in your travels? Is there actually a difference? What does a green card entitle you to, anyway?

Sometimes you need a green card.

If you plan on marrying into the United States, you’ll end up with a green card. Otherwise, living on various visas is an option, but they’re all temporary. 

If you plan on staying in the United States for the foreseeable future, a green card for permanent residency is the best solution. 

To learn all about green cards and what they can offer to you, keep reading. 

Why Not Just Get a Visa?

Many people live in the United States on temporary visas. These visas can be granted for various reasons and they can last for several years. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with staying in the U.S. on a temporary visa if you do not plan on becoming a U.S. citizen. 

There are non-immigrant visas for more temporary stays and immigrant visas for long term or permanent stays. 

When someone has an immigrant visa, they often move forward to get their green card soon after. Those who marry into the United States will go through this process, as well as those who are brought to the United States by American adoptive parents and those who are coming here for sponsored long-term employment. 

If one wants to become a permanent resident of the United States, they need a green card. This doesn’t grant citizenship, but it does grant some security and it offers some benefits and responsibilities that non-green cardholders don’t have. 

So What Does a Green Card Entitle You To? 

Why bother getting a green card if you can just stay on an extended visa? What does it have to offer that you can’t just as easily get without it? 

Is there actually any kind of benefit that comes from having one? What rights does a green card grant? 

Let’s talk about it. 

You get Permanent Residence

The biggest benefit of a green card is having your residency made permanent. 

When you’re under a temporary visa, it needs to be renewed frequently. A green card needs only to be replaced once every decade (and by that time, if you choose, you could become naturalized). 

Now, permanent isn’t truly permanent. You can still be deported under certain conditions. 

There are some laws that, if broken, will interfere with your immigration and you will have to return to your home country.

As long as you behave while you’re here, you’ll be golden. This is also the first step to naturalization though there is an N-400 processing time involved. 

More Affordable University

When you’re in the United States on a temporary visa, you can go to school. That might even be why you got the visa in the first place.

University in the United States is already very expensive. If you’ve traveled here for the spectacular university options, you might find yourself spending a lot of money just to get the education that you’ve been wanting. 

While there are scholarship and funding options for international students, it often costs more by default to study internationally. You also won’t have all of the scholarship options that full-time residents have.

If you plan on living and working in the United States after you’re done with your university time, it’s definitely worth thinking about to opt for permanent residency.

Freedom to Work

When you’re only here on a visa, you won’t be able to have flexibility with your work. You might have come here for a specific job, meaning that you were sponsored by an employer.

If you choose to change fields, that visa is lost. You have to return home. 

Many people don’t want to stay with the same company forever in current times. If you’d like to remain in the United States after your job is no longer available or desirable to you, it’s in your best interest to get a green card.

With a valid green card, you can work at almost any American company. There are a few limitations, like certain government positions (mostly for reasons of privacy and safety) but a world of options opens up to you.  

Sponsorship Options

Do you miss your immediate family members? Traveling from the United States can be expensive and troublesome, and for some of us, there’s no such thing as too much family time. 

If this sounds like you, a green card might be your solution. 

Once you qualify for a green card and receive your permanent residency, you are able to sponsor certain people to come to stay with you. 

You are mostly limited to immediate family members when you’re trying to sponsor. These include any children who are under the age of 21, a spouse, or your parents. You can indirectly sponsor extended family members as well. 

Easy International Travel

When you decide to visit home or just go on any recreational trips, travel can be annoying when you’re only on a visa.

At the best of times, airline travel (especially international travel) is a nuisance. At the worst of times, it can feel downright impossible. You may struggle to get back into the states on a visa. 

Even if you’re allowed back in without difficulty, it can lead to longer wait times, potentially causing missed or rescheduled flights.

A green card operates like a passport. It shows that you are a permanent resident of the United States and should be treated as such. While some airline workers may still hold you up, the green card is a much more easily recognizable symbol of residency. 

If you decide to travel long-term, even if you’ve been a resident for a long time, you may begin to have problems. This is where the shift to citizenship might be beneficial. 

Leaving the country for months at a time can potentially cause you to lose your residency status. If you’re looking to spend a year abroad, wait until you’re a full-time citizen. 

Social Security

People who have permanent residence pay into social security when they’re working. 

Social security in the United States is important. It covers things like disability benefits, retirement, and some family assistance. 

If you aren’t a permanent resident, you won’t qualify for these benefits. 

What Are the Responsibilities of a Green Card Holder? 

With benefits come responsibilities. You gain a lot from changing your status to permanent resident. You also get treated like an American, meaning that you have to follow certain guidelines and laws (especially if you don’t want to lose your residency).

You Must Follow American Laws

Naturally, everyone needs to follow American laws. Those with visas, those with residency, and those who are citizens are all under the law. 

Not following the laws has bigger consequences for green card holders, though. Breaking laws, as we mentioned before, could result in deportation. 

You May Have to Register for the Selective Service

The last draft for war was in December of 1972. Those who were registered for selective service had their names pulled and were required to fight for their country. 

Presently, we don’t really use the selective service. Just in case, though, you may be required to register depending on your gender and age. 

All men who are between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register. It’s unlikely that you will ever be drafted, but it is your responsibility as an American resident. 

You Must Pay and File Taxes

Reporting your income at the beginning of every year can be troublesome. Tax season isn’t enjoyable for anyone, but as a resident, it’s your responsibility to pay your dues to the IRS. 

If you own your own small business, or you work freelance, this means that you’re responsible for paying quarterly taxes. If you work for a business, this means taxes will be collected for you.

Not reporting your income to the best of your ability is a crime in the United States. As a resident, you’re responsible. 

Are You Planning on Permanent Residency? 

If you’re looking to make the United States your home and have all of the rights of a permanent resident, you need to get a green card. 

What does a green card entitle you to? You can make life more affordable for yourself, you can work wherever you like (even own a business) and you can bring your loved ones to stay.

American residency is only a green card away. 

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