Permanent Resident Visa

Approximately 200,000 permanent resident visas (and Green Cards) are issued for immigration to the United States each year through Employment-Based (EB) US immigration programs, as well as the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program (also known as the Green Card Lottery). This includes around 140,000 Employment-Based permanent resident visas and up to 50,000 Diversity Visas that are granted annually.

There is an important distinction between a permanent resident visa for US immigration and a permanent resident Green Card. The permanent resident visa is granted by the US State Department and is stamped inside of the passport of a new Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States to authorize initial entry into the country during the limited period of time that is specified in this US immigration visa. (For people approved for immigration to the United States through the DV-Lottery Program, this permanent resident visa is known as a Diversity Visa.) A US Permanent Resident Card (known as a Green Card) is granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency and is carried by the LPR long-term as an official form of identification and proof of permanent resident status.

In addition to around 200,000 Green Cards issued through the Employment-Based programs and the Diversity Visa Lottery Program every year, there are hundreds of thousands of Green Cards granted to family members of American citizens or US permanent residents living inside or outside of the United States; to refugees; and to other foreign nationals who live in the USA as temporary residents and are approved for a change of status to permanent residents.

Overall, about one-million Green Cards are granted annually to new permanent residents of the United States. Around 500,000 of these Green Cards are issued to people who are outside of the United States (many of whom will also need a US immigration visa stamped in their passports to enter the country), and approximately 500,000 of the Green Cards are granted to foreign nationals already living in the USA with a temporary non-immigrant visa (i.e., they receive a change of status from temporary resident to permanent resident).

A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States (also referred to as a Green Card holder) has many rights and responsibilities. The benefits of US permanent residency include: the right to live in the USA for an unlimited length of time; legal authorization to work in the United States; access to educational programs; the option to start a business; the option to buy/own a home or other property in the USA; being able to sponsor an eligible family member for a US visa; and the opportunity to apply for American citizenship after they live in the USA five years and meet other criteria. Green Card holders also have certain responsibilities, such as paying taxes and obeying federal, state and local laws.