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When you get a green card, what rights do you immediately obtain?

Many people who immigrated to this country are seeking permanent residency, a prized status that grants the individual many rights, freedoms, and opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise. To earn permanent residency, a person needs to acquire a green card, and there are strict eligibility requirements for this. But once you do obtain a green card, what rights do you have? Why is the green card such a sought after document? 

First of all, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects permanent residents. Permanent residents can't be discriminated against under this law. But there are plenty of other rights that are granted to permanent residents once they obtain their green card:

  • You can live anywhere, although it should be noted that if you do anything in violation of your status, it could make you removable (i.e. open for deportation).
  • You can also work in the U.S., apply for a driver's license, and own property in the U.S.
  • One of the main reasons why a green card is so desired is because it creates a path to U.S. citizenship. There is a probationary period one has to go through, but once you clear this, you become eligible to apply for citizenship.
  • You can even help you family members obtain U.S. visas or go through other immigration processes.
  • There are plenty of other rights that you have when you get a green card, such as being able to vote in local elections, attend public schools and universities, and have the protections of U.S. laws. Having a green card is a major step for any person who wants to be in the U.S.

Source: FindLaw, "Permanent Resident Rights," Accessed May 14, 2015

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