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What is a "Permanent Resident?

A “Permanent Resident,” often referred to as a “Green Card” holder is someone who has been approved to live in the U.S. for an unlimited amount of time. Permanent Resident status can be revoked for certain reasons including committing crimes or making one’s permanent home outside the United States. Generally, after 5 years, a Permanent Resident can apply for U.S. Citizenship.  Our NYC Green Card Lawyers have extensive experience in obtaining Green Card approvals. Let us use our expertise to assist you in your Green Card filing today.

Who is eligible to become a "Permanent Resident?"

In order to be eligible to adjust your status to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident, you need:

(1) To be the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Visa petition,


(2) There must be a visa number immediately available to you.

Conditional vs. Permanent Residency

Upon approval of your Adjustment of Status application, you will either receive a 2-year or a 10-year Green Card. A 2-year Green Card holder is called a "Conditional Permanent Resident." A 10-year Green Card holder is referred to as a "Permanent Resident."  The type of Green Card that you receive is dependent on the basis for your underlying Immigrant Visa petition. 


Conditional Resident ("2-Year") Green Card Categories:


If you or your parent has been married to a U.S. Citizen for less than 2 years at the time of admission into the U.S., (if you are in the U.S., it is the date of your interview with USCIS), then you receive a Conditional Green Card and must apply to "remove the conditions" on your residency within 90 days of the 2-year anniversary of the date of issue. Failing to do so will result in the termination of your permanent residency and if you do not leave the country, you risk being placed in Removal Proceedings.

A couple* who has been married for less than 2 years at the time the immigrant spouse receives his or her Green Card must submit a joint petition (Form I-751) to prove to the U.S. government that they did not get married to evade the immigration laws. You are thus required to submit updated bona fide marriage evidence showing that you and your spouse share a life together and have joint financial responsibilities. Upon approval, the immigrant spouse is issued a renewable 10-year Green Card.

*This also applies to the immigrant spouse's children who received conditional resident status at the same time as his or her parent or within 90-days.

What happens when you have your Conditional Green Card and your marriage begins to fall apart before your are able to successfully remove the conditions on your residency? Unfortunately this situation is all too common as life is often unpredictable. If your marriage ends in divorce or if you are the subject to abuse by your U.S. Citizen or LPR Spouse before the 2-year anniversary of receiving your Green Card, there is still hope! You may be eligible for a waiver of the joint filing requirement.


If you enter the U.S. with a K-1 non-immigrant fiancé(e) visa, you MUST marry your U.S. Citizen fiancé(e) within 90-days of your entry into the U.S., or your status as a K-1 will automatically expire.


Immigrants who enter the U.S. with an EB-5 immigrant investor visa are also issued a 2-year Conditional Green Card for themselves & accompanying family members & must apply to remove conditions on residency within 90 days of the 2-year anniversary of receiving conditional resident status. To remove conditions on your residency your must provide evidence of the following:

  1. Investment - An immigrant investor must submit evidence that he or she: (a) in fact invested in a new commercial enterprise; (b) has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, the total amount of the required funds, and; (c) the investment has been sustained in the new commercial enterprise throughout the 2-year Conditional Permanent Resident period.
  2. Job Creation - An immigrant investor must submit evidence that he or she has created or will create, within a reasonable period of time, 10 full-time jobs for qualifying employees.
  3. Job Preservation -An entrepreneur immigrant who invested in a troubled business, (as opposed to a new commercial enterprise), must also submit evidence that he or she maintained the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for the 2-year conditional residency period.

Permanent Resident ("10-Year") Green Card Categories:


Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizen:

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens do NOT have to wait in line for a visa to be come available!

Who is an 'Immediate Relative'?

I am a U.S. Citizen, and I am petitiong for my:

  • Spouse;
  • Unmarried Child (My child is under age 21), or;
  • Parent (I am age 21 or older).

If you have been married to your U.S. Citizen spouse for at least 2 years at the time of your marriage interview, upon approval you will receive a 10-year Green Card and will not be required to submit a petition to remove conditions on your residency (Form I-751). At the end of the 10-year period, if you have not yet became a U.S. Citizen, you must renew your Green Card in order to remain a Permanent Resident.

If your Immigrant Visa is based on your relationship to a U.S. Citizen or LPR who is not your spouse, you are automatically issued a 10-year Green Card and do not need to submit a petition to remove conditions (Form I-751) on your residency.

Family Members of U.S. Citizen:

I am a U.S. Citizen, and I am petitiong for my:

  • Unmarried Child (My child is over age 21);
  • Married Child of any age, or;
  • Brother or Sister (I am age 21 or older).

Family Members of Lawful Permanent Resident:

I am a Permanent Resident, and I am petition for my:

  • Spouse, or;
  • Unmarried Child of any age.

Special Family-Based Categories:

  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) - Battered Spouses & Children of U.S. Citizens and LPRs
  • Person Born to a Foreign Diplomat in the U.S.
  • V Non-immigrant
  • Widow(er) of U.S. Citizen

Go to current Visa Bulletin for visa wait times


Select kinds of employment visas allow the beneficiary to work and remain in the U.S. permanently. Employment-based Green Cards can be broken down into the following 3 categories:

Green Card Through a Job Offer:

You may be able to get a Green Card through a job offer if:

  1. You have a permanent job offer, AND;
  2. Your employer files for you.


A few Employment-based Immigrant categories allow you to file for yourself instead of an employer:

  • Extraordinary Ability Alien
  • National Interest Waiver

Green Card Through Special Categories of Jobs:

Do I need an employer to file for me? It depends on the job category. Popular Special Job Categories:

  • Religious Workers/ Employees
  • U.S. government employees abroad
  • Employees abroad who benefit the U.S. government


If you are lucky enough to win the lottery, you must apply for your Green Card by September 30 of the fiscal year in which your name was drawn or you will lose your opportunity.

The fiscal year for USCIS begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year.


If you were granted status as an Asylee or Refugee, you eligible to apply for a Green Card based on your status 1-year after entry into the U.S. (if you are a Refugee) or 1-year after your approval (if you are an Asylee).

*If you are a Refugee, you MUST apply for a Green Card 1-year after entering the U.S. Asylees are not required by law to apply for a Green Card, and can remain as an Asylee indefinitely. However, it is generally in your best interest to become a Permanent Resident.

Click here to go back to Visas, or click here for information on becoming a U.S. Citizen

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