Green Card Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Green Card, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Green Card?

A card used for identification purposes that enables non-citizens to reside permanently and work in the United States.

History and Meaning of Green Card

A green card, also known as a permanent resident card, is a document that authorizes an individual to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. The green card is the official proof of an individual's immigration status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR), as well as their authorization to work in the U.S. The term "green card" comes from the fact that the original versions of the document were printed on green paper.

The green card program began in 1950 with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Originally, the program was intended to offer permanent residency to immigrants from Western Hemisphere countries. However, the program was later expanded to allow immigrants from all countries to apply.

Today, there are approximately 13.2 million green card holders living in the U.S.

Examples of Green Card

  1. Jose just received his green card and is excited to finally have the ability to work and travel freely in the United States.
  2. Maria's father has had a green card for over 20 years, which allowed him to bring Maria and her family to the U.S. as well.
  3. Mark's green card is set to expire soon, so he is beginning the process of renewing it to ensure he can continue to work in the U.S.

Legal Terms Similar to Green Card

Here are a few related terms that may be helpful to know:

  1. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR): This refers to an individual who has been granted the right to permanently live and work in the U.S.
  2. Naturalization: This is the process by which a non-U.S. citizen becomes a U.S. citizen.
  3. Visa: A visa is a document that allows non-U.S. citizens to enter the United States for a temporary period of time.