7 benefits of having a Green Card

Benefits of having a Green Card for United States

You may already know that there are plenty of benefits of having a Green Card, and the most obvious is that it allows you to live permanently in the United States. But it’s worth digging a bit deeper into what this actually offers.

While the benefits of having a Green Card don’t necessarily change, the requirements and legislation can. As such, it’s worth staying up to date with the latest developments to ensure you’re following procedure when applying for a Green Card.

We’ve got plenty of information on our site about changes to immigration legislation, so be sure to check that out. Here, though, we’ll go over the 7 most important benefits of having a Green Card.

7 Benefits of Having a Green Card

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive, as there are certainly more than 7 benefits to being a legal permanent resident in the United States. However, this list should be enough for those thinking of applying to know whether or not it’s worth it.

1. LPRs can sponsor relatives

Green Card holders can sponsor their immediate family members to live in the United States. By USCIS’s definition, immediate family members are spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.

For other family members, you’ll have to wait until you’re a US citizen. These count as preference category members, including siblings and parents. However, having your immediate family with you is definitely a good place to start.

2. More manageable university fees

Many colleges, universities, and vocational schools in the United States charge out-of-state and international students higher tuition fees. There are states where it could amount to over 50% more tuition per year. With a Green Card, you are considered an in-state resident and can save money on college tuition.

As a permanent legal resident, you are also eligible to apply for – and receive – federal financial aid for your education. You might also qualify for significant financial aid from the government to pay for your studies, which can diminish – if not eliminate – tuition costs.

So, one of the biggest benefits of having a Green Card (for all ages) is access to university education. Considering how much some American universities can cost, this is a pretty good way into the system.

3. You can live anywhere you choose in the country

One of the best benefits of having a Green Card is that you can settle down anywhere you choose. Considering the size and diversity of the United States, this is a pretty big deal.

Of course, if you’re applying for an employment Green Card, you’ll generally have to live near your place of work. But if you’re entering using a family Green Card or Diversity Visa Lottery win, there’s no restriction on where you can choose to live.

This can be a bit overwhelming, though, particularly if you don’t know much about the USA outside of its most famous cities. However, it can always be worth looking for communities from your home country or spending some time researching what’s out there. Another option is to speak to an immigration professional about what you want from your life in America and see what they suggest.

4. International travel is a breeze

One of the best benefits of having a Green Card is that it makes traveling in and out of the United States so much easier compared to having a temporary visa or a student visa. US Immigration services are required to admit all Green Card holders because the card is a symbol of their permanent status in the country.

Of course, having an expired Green Card will change things slightly. It doesn’t mean you’re no longer a legal permanent resident, but it can look a bit suspicious. So, always begin your renewal process a good 6 months before your current card is due to expire. Considering it lasts for 10 years, you should have plenty of notice.

Please note that you could run into additional problems if you stay out of the country for six months or more. US Immigration will then have the right to question if you really plan to make the United States your permanent place of residence. They may even choose to revoke your Green Card.

5. Access to the US’s Social Security system

The Social Security Administration (SSA), which is primarily funded through payroll taxes, offers economic security to retired and disabled people, as well as their families. Around 1 in 4 American families rely on social security benefits. These benefits range from food and childcare assistance to medical care assistance.

Green Card holders can qualify for these social security benefits through their permanent resident status. For example, a Green Card holder can claim retirement benefits after working in the United States for ten years.

The benefit about university fees would also fall into this category, as it’s state-funded aid for education. While Green Card holders don’t have the same full access to social security benefits as citizens, it’s a pretty good place to start.

However, this does come with a potential downside (or responsibility, whichever way you choose to look at it): taxes. As a Green Card holder, you’ll be expected to file tax returns every year. Without paying into the system, you can’t benefit from the system.

Compared to your country’s tax system, the US’s might be super complicated. So, having access to social security is obviously a massive benefit, but filing tax returns can be a massive downside, as any American will tell you.

6. Career freedom (under certain conditions)

Another of the biggest benefits of having a Green Card is access to better career opportunities. Employment-based Green Cards will typically be tied to the company that sponsored the application, although this doesn’t have to be permanent. You might be able to switch jobs and still keep your Green Card.

Those from other Green Card categories start out with much more freedom. For example, Diversity Visa Lottery winners can work any job they choose, as can spouses of Green Card holders. This includes starting a company of their own, arguably a cornerstone of the “American Dream”.

However, there are still some limits. For example, Green Card holders typically can’t work in federal jobs that require security clearances. To do this, you’d have to be a full US citizen.

7. Fewer renewals than other visas

Unlike other kinds of residency permits that have to be renewed either annually or biannually, a Green Card only needs to be renewed once every 10 years. As mentioned, the renewal process for Green Cards starts around 6 months before the expiry date on the card, which is when you need to fill out the Form I-90 and submit it to the USCIS.

Bonus Benefits of Having a Green Card

See, we said we couldn’t summarize all the benefits of having a Green Card into 7 entries. So, here are 2 more bonus benefits, including the most obvious one.

Bonus 1: engaging in politics

You might already know that Green Card holders can’t vote in the US or influence the political process in certain ways. However, 2 things they can do are donate to political campaigns and volunteer.

These might not sound like massive benefits, but they’re worth something. For example, you might have an interest in a local, state or national politician who favors immigration or other beneficial policies. Alternatively, you might have a friend or family member who’s running for office. Either way, it’s a good starting point for experiencing American politics.

Bonus 2: pathway to citizenship

How could we list out the benefits of having a Green Card and not mention the pathway to citizenship? It’s not a guaranteed outcome of holding a Green Card but is the natural final step for a lot of people.

It’s certainly not an easy process, as there are exams and interviews you need to pass. However, the benefits of being a citizen are even greater than those of Green Card holders. For example, you’ll be able to vote in elections and sponsor more distant family members for entrance into the United States.

You can apply for naturalization 3-5 years after first entering the United States with your Green Card. Becoming a citizen also means you’ll never have to do renewal paperwork again and you’ll even be issued with your own American passport!

Final Thoughts on Benefits of Having a Green Card

The benefits of having a Green Card are certainly numerous. There are plenty of routes to getting a Green Card, but perhaps the easiest is through the Green Card Lottery.

Apply today, and our immigration team will assist you in submitting an error-free application with guaranteed approval.

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