Green card facts you should know

You might be one of many people who arrive in Louisiana from other countries of origin to live or work, made possible by a temporary visa. At some point, however, you might be interested in learning more about the requirements you must fulfill in order to obtain a green card, otherwise known as a Law Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551.

If you obtain a green card, you possess unrestricted permission to reside in the United States, indefinitely, as long as you renew as necessary, which is typically every 10 years. If, however, you obtain a conditional green card status, you might have to undergo the renewal process every two years, instead.

Visiting the United States versus moving to the United States

If you only plan to remain in Louisiana or some other state on a temporary basis, such as to visit relatives, attend college or work for a specific amount of time, then it is not a green card you need but a visa. There are numerous types of visas, and it is important to determine which one you need.

If you want to move to the United States and stay here indefinitely, you will want to learn more about how to obtain a green card. A green card contains a lot of personal information and data, including the items listed here:

  • Your name, age, date of birth and sex
  • Your country of origin
  • Your USCIS number
  • Your fingerprints
  • A photograph of you

On the flip-side of your green card, there would also be a hologram, which is a relatively recent addition to the system, designed to increase security.

With a green card, you may come and go from any United States border

One of the greatest benefits of being a green card holder is that it enables you to travel freely, in and out of the United States, without having to obtain a visa. Additional benefits include being eligible for a discounted tuition rate to attend a U.S. university or college, as well as apply for a student loan.

Your spouse and any children under age 21 become automatically eligible for a green card after you have obtained one. Finally, being a green card holder for three to five years makes you eligible to begin the process to become a full-fledged U.S. citizen, if that is one of your goals.

If legal complications arise in the green card process

Many immigrants, perhaps even some in Louisiana, have gotten into serious legal trouble by trying to beat the system, such as marrying a U.S. citizen merely to obtain a green card, which is fraud and a felony crime under the law. To avoid legal problems, it is always best to make sure you clearly understand U.S. immigration laws and know where to seek support if a problem arises as you navigate the system.