What Is a Green Card?

California is a state of diversity, with people of many nationalities coming there to fulfill their dreams. This is why many may have heard the term ‘green card holder’ when conversing with someone, but may not be aware of what the term really means. A Green Card Holder, also known as a permanent resident, is legally allowed to work and reside permanently in America. Depending on one’s circumstances, a Green Card holder can be eligible to apply for citizenship in three or five years.


There are many categories of green card holders. While many get them due to their familial ties with American citizens, workers from other countries also get green cards that are sponsored by their employers. Within these categories, certain statuses get priority. For example, spouses and children may have a higher priority to receive a green card than siblings. Similarly, workers with extraordinary ability in the sciences or arts or multinational managers and executives may have priority over unskilled workers.


Green Cards can also be available for refugees and for asylum seekers-individuals who have been persecuted or who fear persecution in their country. Human trafficking victims may also be eligible for permanent residency in America. Lastly, individuals investing a great sum of money may also be able to begin their journey to citizenship in the country.


The process for applying for a green card differs, both on where the individual is based at the time of the application and also on the category one is applying under. Since the documentation is crucial and incorrect paperwork may delay the process, it might be beneficial to consult an experienced lawyer for more information on permanent visas.

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Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.

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