What is a green card?

IF you're planning on starting a life elsewhere, maybe in America, it's not as easy as moving around Europe.

Travelling to America requires a visa but living there requires a green card, and here we will give you all the information you need.

What is a green card?

A green card is a photo I.D. card given to those residing in the United States.

You will still have the passport of the country you are originally from and when travelling outside the US, you will need to take both a green card and your original passport.

The green card does not allow you to have a US passport, simply the right to live and work there.

This is similar to the pre-settled or settled EU status that people from European Union associated countries had to complete to leave the UK before Brexit.

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What does a green card allow you to do?

As previously said, a green card allows you to live and work in the US.

It will also permit you to help your family members receive permanent residence in the US too.

Beware though that only a limited number of immigrant visas are available per year and so there is a waiting list for this procedure.

Your family members will be considered as "preference relatives" and they might have to wait up to five years to travel to the US or join you in living there or get a green card too.

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What's the difference between a green card and citizenship?

A green card will only grant you the right to live and work and bring family members over.

It will not permit you to have US citizenship or a passport.

The only ways to obtain citizenship are through birth in the US, through US citizen parents or through a long process called naturalisation.

You will not be at risk of being deported from the US if you commit a crime or fail to show proof of residency in the US.

How many years does it take to get a green card?

The entire process varies from one application case to another.

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It depends on your relation to the US:

  • If you're a spouse of a US citizen and live in the US it may take 10-13 months, while if you leave outside the US, it may take up to 17 months.
  • If you're a spouse of a green card holder, it might take up from two to three years.
  • If you're a widow, a parent or the child (under 21) of a US citizen, it should take up from 10-13 months.
  • If you are the child (under 21) of a green card holder, it should take from 23-38 months.
  • If you are unmarried or an adult child of a US citizen, it may take you up to eight years.
  • If you're an unmarried adult child of a green card holder, it may take you up to nine years.
  • If you're a married adult child of a US citizen, it may take you up to 14 years.
  • If you are a sibling of a US citizen, it may take you 16 years.

This is the basic information to start planning your green card application process, but for more detailed information and forms, you should visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

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