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What is a green card, and how do you get one?

Many people have heard the phrase "getting a green card" before, but what does it actually mean to get a green card? Most people may think that getting a green card is like getting U.S. citizenship. That assertion is not correct, though a green card does put someone on the path to obtain U.S. citizenship, if they were to pursue it. Still, a green card does not equal citizenship.

However, a green card does allow a person to reside in the United States for an indefinite amount of time. It's permanent residency, and a green card grants some major privileges to the people who obtain it. So what makes you eligible for a green card?

It depends greatly on every applicant's individual situation, but if you are a relative of a U.S. citizen, if you are a refugee or an asylum seeker, or if your circumstances are otherwise favorable, you can apply for a green card. If a green card carrying family member petitions for you to get a green card, then you could get a green card as well. There are also some circumstances where a person changes his or her status, allowing them the chance to obtain a green card.

As with any immigration process though, there are no guarantees. If you are considering applying for a green card, you need to get in touch with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to ensure that your application is being handled properly. Otherwise, you risk making a critical mistake during the application process that could ruin your green card case.

Source: FindLaw, "Getting a Green Card," Accessed Nov. 18, 2014

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