Permanent Resident

A permanent resident is an individual who is not a citizen of the United States, but who lives in the country legally, with their presence being lawfully recorded. They are also known as permanent resident aliens or resident alien permit holders. In order to prove their immigration status, a permanent resident is issued with a card (colloquially known as a Green Card) which provides all the information about the immigrant, including a unique number that identifies the individual.

A permanent resident is authorized to work and live in the United States on a permanent basis. By obtaining a Green card, a permanent resident is expected to remain in the United States for a significant amount of time. In fact, leaving the United States for a significant amount of time and having activities that could be construed as having citizenship in another country is a basis for revocation of the permanent residence status.

There are several ways in which one can become a permanent resident. These include:

  • Potential employers can petition for a foreigner to come into the country and work for them on a permanent basis, in which case one of the documents they would need would be a permanent residence card.
  • Marriage to a citizen of the United States makes the spouse a permanent resident if they come to live in the country by petition of their US-based spouse.
  • Winning a Green Card through the US Department of State diversity lottery program, also known as the Green Card lottery.
  • By being sponsored by a close relative who resides in the United States as a legal permanent resident or who is a US Citizen.

Permanent residents enjoy most of the rights that US Citizens do, expect a few including the right to vote.