The US permanent resident card otherwise known as a “green card” provides holders with the legal right to live and work in the United States. The card provides proof that the holder has official permission to live and work in the United States.

Acquiring the card is seen as a huge accomplishment for some immigrants who have a desire to live their lives in the United States legally. Many people acquire these cards as part of the diversity visa lottery that is held every year. For others, they follow different paths to obtain a visa that will see them acquire a green card as part of their chosen route.  

A US permanent resident card allows you to stay, work, and study in the U.S. under the condition you do not commit a crime or violate the terms of the green cards. It provides you with the status of being a permanent resident of the country and the benefits that come with that.

When a green card holder turns 18 years old, they may also have the right to vote. The significant difference between a green card holder and a citizen of the US is that a green card holder can vote only in local and state elections that don’t require voters to be U.S. citizens. Green card holders are therefore excluded from voting in presidential elections.

There are also some public benefits such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare that may be limited for US permanent resident card holders.

Once someone receives their US permanent resident card, they always have a legal obligation to carry it with them if they are over the age of 18 years old under Section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This piece of legislation requires all lawful permanent residents to have official evidence of their status with them. If you are caught without your US permanent resident card (aka “Green Card”) this is treated as a misdemeanor offense that carries up to $100-dollar penalty and 30 days in jail. Copies are not sufficient either as only the original is deemed to be suitable evidence.

This aside, obtaining a US permanent resident card is an exciting experience that provides the same opportunities as US citizens when it comes to working, family and living the life you dreamed. For those who tackle the application process with care and attention, this could be the start of a new chapter in your life.

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