A green card or permanent resident card is the final objective of many immigrants to the United States. Becoming a lawful permanent resident means that someone can stay in the country indefinitely, unlike those subject to the restrictions of a student or employment visa.
A green card in theory allows you to stay in the country for the rest of your life. You don’t have to apply to renew it every few years like you do with many visas. What other benefits or rights do immigrants derive from becoming permanent residents?
The right to live and work in the United States
Different Visa programs limit not just how long you can stay in the United States but also your economic activity while you are here. When you become a permanent resident, you no longer have the same limitations on your opportunities.
Permanent residents can work in almost any job, with the exception of certain rare professions limited only to United States citizens. Pursuing a gainful career is much easier when there aren’t professional limitations imposed by a visa. You will also be able to remain in the United States indefinitely, provided that you comply with the law and do not face any criminal charges serious enough to warrant your removal.
The right to legal protections under state and federal law
There are certain rules, like the right to workers’ compensation insurance, that apply to even undocumented immigrants. However, many legal rights only protect lawful permanent residents and citizens. You will have more protection under the law as a permanent resident than you would as someone in the country on a visa.
The right to help family members immigrate
Individuals with visas can sometimes support spouses and children who want to enter the country. However, permanent residents are in a stronger position to facilitate family immigration. They can even help some of their family members qualify for green cards once they have their own.
For those who want to maintain long-term residency in the United States and would like the protection that comes with being a lawful permanent resident, adjusting one’s status to secure a green card may be a very wise step. Learning about the benefits of green cards in the challenges involved in securing one can help you decide the next step to take on your immigration journey.