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Green Card FAQs


1. What are the benefits of the green card?

– All lawful permanent residents under the EB-5 Visa enjoy the same benefits as every other U.S. citizen, except for the right to vote and entitlement to certain public benefits.


– The U.S. is a safe harbor for your family as well as your personal and business investments. Any member of the family with a “Green Card” can enter the U.S. at any time and stay as long as he/she wishes.


– Investors have constant and easy access to the United States for personal, trade and business purposes.


– Permanent residents travel to the U.S. without the need of another visa. Investors may work, live, or own their own proprietary business anywhere in the United States.


– The U.S. has internationally recognized colleges and universities for both basic education and graduate study. As a resident, the investor can benefit from lower tuition costs.


– The cost of living in the U.S. is less than most large industrial nations. Consumer goods, services, and housing are significantly less expensive than comparable services and good in most other countries.


– Students may work in the U.S. while they attend college and then continue to work afterwards, enabling the student to pay part of his education and to work while attending graduate and postgraduate studies.


– The U.S. provides many financial, social, and education entitlements such as public schools, health and medical attention, social security, and education.


– The Investor has the ability to bring immediate family members to the U.S. and after proper application, can apply for U.S. citizenship.


2. What is a ‘Conditional’ Green Card?

A conditional Green Card is a temporary Green Card valid for only two years. One year and nine months after it is issued, a three-month window opens up during which an individual must file another application (the I-829 petition) with USCIS to verify that all of the funds have been invested and employment has been created. When the conditional resident status has been lifted, full resident status is granted and a permanent Green Card is issued.

3. What is the difference between “conditional” and “unconditional” Green Cards?

Under the regulations, an investor who is approved for the EB-5 immigrant visa receives a “conditional” Green Card, which must be reissued after two years, subject to removal of conditions. Otherwise, the two cards offer the same rights and privileges.

4. Who receives the permanent residency (“Green Card”)?

Husband, wife and any unmarried children under the age of 21. It is possible for adopted children to be included in the family. Upon approval you will receive a form evidencing approval and a travel document. You should also receive a temporary Green Card in the mail.

5. What is the difference between permanent residency and citizenship?

Once you obtain a Green Card and become a lawful permanent resident, you have most of the rights and obligations of U.S. citizens, except that you cannot vote and you are not entitled to some public benefits. You are subject to the same tax filing requirements and are entitled to the same tax rates and deductions as U.S. citizens. Lawful permanent residents may also be subject to removal for certain criminal convictions.


Your ‘Green Card’ is your most important travel and identification document. When your Green Card arrives, look at it carefully. If your Green Card is lost, stolen, or duplicated, you may replace it by filling a form with USCIS.


“Abandonment of residency” rules are an important restriction to which Lawful Permanent Residents are subject. Abandonment can occur when you are outside of the United States for more than six months without informing the USCIS of your plans in advance. The law provides that you are free to travel abroad, provided that your trip is “temporary”. Generally, the USCIS views any absence from the United States for longer than six months as not temporary. Thus, it is advisable to obtain a “re-entry permit” before your departure.


Naturalization is one of the most important opportunities that lawful permanent residents possess. Naturalization is the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years. Being a lawful permanent resident for 5 years is one of the basic requirements for qualifying for naturalization. A second requirement is being physically present in the U.S. for 30 months during the 5 years prior to the naturalization application. Once becoming a U.S. citizen, an individual is entitled to benefits including the right to vote, hold public office, and cannot be removed from the U.S.

6. If my I-526 petition is approved by USCIS, what is the purpose of the Consulate application and interview, and how soon do I get my “Green Card”?

Upon approval of I-526 Petition, you must wait for notification from the US Consulate in your home country to prepare documents for the EB-5 Visa interview. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the investor and his/her family undergo medical, police, security, and immigration history checks before the conditional permanent resident visas are issued. At the interview, the consular officer may address these issues and information printed on the I-526 application, including asking the investor to summarize the nature of his/her immigrant investment. If the investor and his/her family are in the United States, then you may apply for adjustment of status by filing form I-485, and supporting documents, the application may be filed at the appropriate office of the USCIS.

7. Can my Green card be taken away from me?

Once you receive a Green Card, there are only two conditions required to keep it for life. First, you must not become removable or inadmissible. The most common way of doing this is to be convicted of a serious crime.


The second requirement is that you do not abandon the United States as your permanent residence. As long as you are not planning to make your home somewhere else and satisfy the physical presence requirements, then legally you are still a resident of the United States. Problems may arise, however, because the USCIS will try to judge your intention by the way you act.


“Abandonment of residency” rules are an important restriction to which lawful permanent residents are subject. Abandonment can occur when you are outside of the United States for more than six months without informing the USCIS of your plans in advance. The law provides that you are free to travel abroad, providing that your trip is “temporary”. Generally, the USCIS views any absence from the United States for longer than six months as not temporary. Thus, it is advisable to obtain a “re-entry permit” before your departure.


As a general rule, if you have a Green Card and leave the United States for more than six months, you may have difficult time re-entering the country. That is because the USCIS feels an absence of longer than six months indicates a possible abandonment of U.S. residence. To avoid a full-scale inspection, you should return within six months.


It is a common misconception that to keep your Green Card all you need to do is enter the United States at least once a year. If you ever leave the United States with the intention of making some other country your permanent home, you give up your lawful permanent residency when you go. Once again, USCIS will look to your behavior for signals that your real place of residence is not the United States.


On the other hand, remaining outside the United States for more than six months does not mean you have automatically given up your Green Card, if your absence was intended from the start to be only temporary, you may still keep your permanent resident status. However, you may no longer use your Green Card as a U.S. entry document. You must either apply at a U.S. consulate for a special immigrant visa as a returning resident or you must get what is known as a re-entry permit.

8. I have a Green Card and plan on traveling out of the U.S. for a long time. Can I keep my Green Card?

Perhaps. The primary rule surrounding Green Cards is that you lose it if you give up your U.S. residence. The more common criterion, though, is time based. There are three important time limits to know about:


– If you are absent for less then six months, you will rarely have a problem. It is up to USCIS to prove that you abandoned your residency.


– If you are absent for more than six months but less than a year, the burden of proof reverses. It becomes your job to prove that you are still a permanent resident. This is based on the concept that after six months you have to be readmitted and have to prove that you are still admissible. As a side note, after an absence of more than six months, the various criteria for admissibility apply again too. For instance, if you in the meantime had become inadmissible, say through an infectious disease, you might have a problem.


– If you are absent for more than a year, your Green Card will be considered almost automatically abandoned. Once that happened, there is usually no recourse.

9. I need to travel out of the U.S. for more than a year. Is there anything I can do?

You can apply for a re-entry permit (on form I-131) before you leave the U.S. You can depart before the re-entry permit is approved. Note that the waiting time may be six months or longer for issuance.


With such a re-entry permit, you can return to the U.S. even after one year until the reentry permit’s expiration date. Reentry permits are issued for two years. You cannot renew a re-entry permit, but you can return to the U.S. for a short time and apply for a new one.

10. How long is a Green Card valid for?

There are several answers to this question:


– If you received your Green Card through marriage, and have not been married for two years at the time you received your Green Card, you should have a conditional Green Card that is good for two years. Also, if you received your Green Card through investment (EB-5), you should have a conditional Green Card for two years. You must apply for removal of the conditions within 90 days before the two years are up using either a Form I-751 (for marriage) or a Form I-829 (for EB-5). Once that application is approved, you will obtain a regular unconditional Green Card. If you apply either too early or too late, you will have a problem and should consult with an immigration attorney for advice.


– If you do not have the condition removed, the Green Card will become invalid at the end of two years, and your permanent resident status will be terminated. Unconditional Green Cards are valid for ten years. This does not mean that after ten years, you stop being a lawful permanent resident – only the card itself becomes invalid. You must apply for a new one using Form I-90. Without a current Green Card, you cannot use it to travel out of the U.S. or as evidence that you are permitted to work.