Immigrant Visas: U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders)

Permanent Resident Services

Once an individual has entered the U.S. on an immigrant visa, he/she will be granted permanent resident status. A permanent resident card (also called a “green card” or “I-551”) will be issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and mailed to the individual’s U.S. address. The card serves as a valid identification document and proof that the individual is eligible to live and work in the U.S. Permanent residents, traveling outside of the U.S. with their passport, should be prepared to present their permanent resident card to re-enter the U.S.

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) have most of the rights of American Citizens:

  • LPRs may live permanently in the United States provided they do not commit any actions that would make them removable (deportable) under the immigration law.
  • LPRs may be employed in the United States.
  • LPRs are protected by all of the laws of the United States, the state of residence and local jurisdictions.

Naturalization: Many Permanent Residents of the United States have the ultimate goal of becoming American citizens. Once an LPR completes the necessary residence and physical presence requirements (which vary in certain cases), he/she can file an application for naturalization. See the USCIS website for additional details.

Permanent resident cards (commonly known as “green cards”) can only be issued or replaced in the U.S. and can never be obtained overseas. A green card is required for re-entry into the U.S. as a permanent resident. If you left your green card in the U.S., you should arrange for someone to send it to you. If your green card has been lost, stolen or destroyed, and you have been outside of the U.S. for less than 364 days without a Permit to Reenter the U.S., you may be able to obtain a “boarding foil” authorizing an airline to carry you to the U.S. without penalty.


Last modified: April 1, 2022