Benefits of a Green Card

Benefits of a Green Card

If you’re planning on emigrating to the United States, a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, better known as a Green Card, ranks among the most crucial immigration documents you can have.

Permanent residence card holders enjoy a number of benefits. For example, whether acquired directly through government channels or the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, (otherwise known as the Green Card Lottery) the Green Card allows you to qualify for lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

In addition, after a certain amount of time, usually about 5 (five) years, you can even try to apply for United States citizenship if you meet all the requirements. However, there is a lot more to being a green card holder.

Throughout this article, we’ll weigh up the Green Card advantages to help you decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Advantages of a Green Card 

As previously stated, a Green Card allows you to live in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident, which grants you access to benefits unavailable to visa holders. These include the following:

  • Political benefits – you are entitled to take part in politics at all levels, federal, state, and local. You can donate to and volunteer for political campaigns of your candidates of choice.
  • Socio-economic benefits – you are eligible to apply for and receive Social Security benefits as well as other federal benefits. Also, with a green card, your pension from your home country can carry over into the United States.
  • Business benefits –  as a legal permanent resident you can set up your own business and it’s easier to apply for trade licenses than it would be with only a work visa. Also, you are eligible for small business federal loans and grants.
  • Legal benefits – as a permanent resident of the U.S., you are afforded all the legal protections that are available to a U.S. citizen, including at a state and local level.
  • Travel benefits – you can travel in and out of the U.S. a lot faster than individuals with visas and ESTAs. You are also allowed to reside in and travel to anywhere in the United States. You can travel freely across state borders without having to check in with any government agency at any level.
  • Education benefits – Green Card holders qualify for lower tuition costs for colleges, vocational courses, or other forms of education, as opposed to international students.  With a green card you may also qualify for government-sponsored financial aid, and thus considerably reduce your education costs. 
  • Family benefits – once you have a Green Card, you can also petition for your spouse and/or unmarried children to become U.S. permanent residents.
  • Long-lasting – U.S. Green Cards will only require renewal once every 10 years. Moreover, Green Cards are immune to any changes in immigration laws; once you’re a holder you cannot lose your permanent resident status under revised legislation.

Green Card in 3s!

Take a photo with your smartphone, upload it to the website, we will prepare it as required and send you a digital or printed version. Simple? You can’t get more convenient than that!

passport photo editor

Downsides of a Green Card

So far, so good, right? But, hold on, we’ve only discussed Green Card benefits, and now we have to consider the disadvantages.

  • Despite being able to contribute to politics in other ways, as outlined above, Green Card holders are not eligibile to vote in U.S. elections. They’re also not allowed to personally run for political office at any level.
  • Green cards do not automatically guarantee citizenship to any children you have (or other family members) who were born outside of the U.S. 
  • U.S. citizens will still have priority over Green Card holders in terms of sponsoring family members for permanent residence . A permanent resident cannot petition for a green card for their parents.
  • After having lived in the U.S. for 8 (eight) years, you will be subjected to extra taxes if you decide to permanently leave the U.S.
  • Although your green card is immune to changes in immigration law, you do not necessarily have full protection from deportation if you engage in serious crime.

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Obligations

The benefits and downsides to being a lawful permanent resident of the United States are still only half of the picture. There are also responsibilities to consider. As a Green Card holder, you will be obliged to:

  • carry it with you at all times and if you don’t have it with you, you could be arrested and have to serve a month-long jail sentence. 
  • follow all federal, state, and local laws of the United States – failure to do so may jeopardize your lawful permanent resident status.
  • sign up for the Selective Service if you are a young adult male between 18 and 25 – this enables the U.S. Armed Forces to call on you in times of a military crisis as part of the draft.
  • pay income tax in the U.S. You must be prepared to file income tax returns to national and state tax authorities.
  • apply for a re-entry pass, otherwise, your permanent resident card may be invalidated.

U.S. Green Card photo

When taking your Green Card photo, you may think you need to go to a professional photographer or photo booth to get it done. Hold that thought –  there’s another way!

With Passport Photo Online, you can take the picture yourself, using only your phone. Then, once you upload the picture to our dedicated photo tool, our AI software will analyze the image to make sure it fits the specifications for Green Card photos. It will also reformat your image to fit the physical requirements. It will even remove your background and replace it with a white one, perfect for a biometric photo.

Moreover, you can have as many attempts as you need to get the perfect Green Card photo and you only pay for the final picture. Once it’s ready, we will send your photo either to your email or physical address. It’s easy, quick, flexible, and reliable. We guarantee your photo will be accepted by the U.S. authorities or you will get double your money back!

Benefits of a Green Card: FAQ

Can Green Card holders get Medicare benefits?

Yes, under the condition that they have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 (five) years and worked for at least 10 years.

Can green card holders receive unemployment benefits?

All permanent lawful residents of the U.S. are entitled to unemployment benefits, and areprotected by the law against getting a lower rate because of their immigration status. You can apply for your benefits through the usual channels and with the usual criteria.

What are the disadvantages of a Green Card?

There are several disadvantages to Green Card. First of all,  being a permanent resident doesn’t entitle you to vote in elections or run for an elected government position at any level. Your children will also not be guaranteed citizenship if they were born outside of the United States, and U.S. citizens will still have priority when it comes to sponsoring relatives for Green Card applications.

When you have lived in the U.S. for 8 (eight) years, you will also be obliged to pay an expatriation tax as well as an exit tax if you decide to permanently move away from the U.S. Finally, even though your Green Card means you cannot be deported because of a change in immigration law, you are not entirely immune to deportation if you engage in criminal activity in the United States.

What are the potential advantages of U.S. citizenship over a Green Card?

Becoming a U.S. citizen grants you many benefits unavailable to permanent resident card  holders. For example, citizenship grants you federal and state voting rights which a Green Card doesn’t, while also granting you access to federal jobs and elected offices.
 
 If you’re a U.S. citizen, citizenship will be automatically granted to your children who were born outside of the U.S. You also gain priority when sponsoring family members to migrate to the U.S. and you can petition for your parents (whereas permanent residents cannot).  A U.S. passport also allows you to get aid from the U.S. Government when overseas. Finally, citizenship means you can’t be deported.

What are the benefits of Green Cards vs H-1B?

There are several Green Card benefits that don’t apply to the H-1B visa (or similar). A Green Card provides permanent residence status, which the H-1B visa does not. This allows for a more open-ended stay, as long as you  renew your Green Card once every 10 years.
 
 It also allows the holder to pursue U.S. citizenship, which no visa does. Green Cards offer faster travel to and from the U.S. than visas do. As a permanent resident you can even sponsor your spouse and/or unmarried children to get Green Cards of their own. 
 
You may also be eligible for government-sponsored education, as well as Social Security benefits (including SSDI, i.e. Social Security Disability Insurance), Medicare, unemployment benefits, federal loans and grants, and more. Green Cards also offer far fewer work restrictions than visas do. For example, if you are a student who is studying in America, you can work off-campus rather than just on-campus with a Green Card.

Do Green Card holders pay taxes?

Yes, as a Green Card holder, you will have to pay taxes when living in the U.S.

How long can you live in the U.S. with a Green Card?

As a legal permanent resident you are allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely.

Who can apply for a Green Card for parents?

Only U.S. citizens can petition for Green Cards for their parents who are foreign-born. Green card holders cannot petition for their parents.

Benefits of a Green Card – wrap up

Overall, we can see that there is a myriad of Green Card benefits for those wishing to travel to the U.S. to live or work. However, it is worth considering the downsides of a Green Card before filing your immigration documents, as the card cannot grant you the same benefits as a U.S. citizenship. 

Still, the benefits make permanent residence an attractive choice for those hoping to emigrate to the U.S., with thousands entering the Green Card Lottery every year for a chance to win one of the 50,000 Green Cards available. If you maintain a lawful immigration status as a green card holder, eventually you could try to apply for U.S. citizenship, provided that there are no other factors preventing you from doing so. 

It’s always recommended to seek advice from an experienced immigration law firm. For a fee, an immigration lawyer will walk you through all the immigration paperwork necessary to make your green card process as smooth as possible.

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