A resident alien card generally referred to as a green card, shows that a person is authorized to live and work in the U.S. permanently. The card is issued to people from other countries (foreign nationals) who have been approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permanent residency through a family or work sponsorship or through other options.
The term resident alien is used to describe someone who is allowed to live and work in the U.S., even though they are not U.S. citizens.
There are other terms that may be used to describe a resident alien. Sometimes you may see the terms “permanent resident”, “legal permanent resident” and/or “green card holder” used interchangeably.
A resident alien card or green card is an official document issued by the USCIS that proves your legal permanent status in the U.S. This identification card has your picture, biographical information, and signature and can be used to prove your status to any authority.
Throughout the years, the green card has been called by different names, all referring to the same type of official document. There is no difference between a resident alien card and a green card.
The “green card” term became the most prominent in the last few years, and currently, it’s the one used most often.
What are the rights of permanent residents?
Permanent residents (green card holders) have the right to live permanently in the U.S. as long as they continue to follow the laws of the country. They also have the right to work in most jobs in the U.S. (federal government jobs, for example, are reserved for U.S. citizens only.)
Permanent residents are fully protected by the laws of the U.S. and their state of residence as well as their local governments.
Permanent residents (green card holders) are required to follow the laws of the U.S., the state in which they live, and their localities. They must file income tax returns and report their income every year with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as well as their state taxing agencies (if applicable.)
Permanent residents must support the U.S. government and its democracy, and any permanent resident who is a male aged 18 through 25, must register in the U.S. Selective Service.
Permanent residents are also required, by law, to keep a valid (unexpired) green card with them at all times.
Most green cards are now issued for a period of 10 years. To renew a 10-year green card, permanent residents must file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card with the USCIS.
Some green cards are issued for a period of 2 years. These are called conditional green cards.
Someone who is a conditional permanent resident may also be referred to as a resident alien. A conditional permanent resident is someone who receives a conditional green card that is only valid for a period of two years. The difference in the card’s expiration date signifies that they applied for and received permanent residency through a recent marriage or through investment.
Removing Conditions on Green Card
To remove the conditions on the green card and get a regular 10-year card, conditional permanent residents must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence (if the green card was obtained through a recent marriage) or Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions (if the green card was obtained through an investment).