Immigrating to the United States is a complex process, no matter how you approach it. There are many different paths to obtaining permanent residency and ultimately, citizenship, but the right option for you will depend on your situation.

Some terms you’ll encounter in your research are likely to be confusing. For instance, what’s a green card vs. Adjustment of Status? Understanding these terms will help you understand your eligibility and take the next step in your immigration journey. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Green Card?

A permanent resident card, commonly known as a “green card” verifies that you are allowed to live and work in the United States permanently. Most green cards are good for 10 years and can be renewed. People who have their green cards can work toward citizenship if they qualify.

Although green cards grant permanent residency, they can be revoked for a number of reasons. Green card holders must keep their address updated with the government and cannot stay outside the United States for more than 180 days at a time without getting prior authorization. A green card can also be revoked for committing a major crime or if the green card holder is found to have obtained the card through fraud.

What is Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of Status (AOS) is a process that allows a person to apply for a green card when they are living in the United States on a temporary visa. To be eligible, the applicant must be in the country legally and have a visa that is eligible for AOS (or waiver). There also needs to be a green card available, based on the applicant’s circumstances.

AOS is often used for people who are married to U.S. citizens or have a sponsoring close family member who is a citizen. People working in the U.S. on temporary work visas can also qualify for AOS. Other qualifying applicants might be those who are refugees or have a green card available via other means.

Do You Qualify for a Green Card?

It can be tricky to figure out if you are eligible for a green card. The process will likely be long and complicated if you intend to immigrate to the United States. Working with an experienced immigration lawyer can make a big difference in the process and help set you up for success. To learn more about your green card eligibility, call (201) 883-9800 to discuss your case with our experienced immigration attorney at our Hackensack office.