Where can I get a green card?

Green card - requirements, application, tax consequences

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The United States Permanent Resident Card - better known under the name Greencard - has been the most popular identity document in the world among emigrants for decades. A green card grants its holder permanent residency in the United States as well as the freedom to live anywhere in the United States, become self-employed, and work for any employer. Unlike Nonimmigrant visas In fact, by receiving a green card, you are not limited to working for the company with whose help you applied for the green card.

Employees who are posted in the USA are often very interested in acquiring a green card. Employers who comply with such requests from their employees can thus retain their best and most experienced employees and at the same time give them an incentive to stay at the US location over the long term.

Green card makes US citizenship possible

A green card gives you the opportunity to acquire US citizenship after 3 to 5 years. In principle, it is possible to retain German citizenship. However, a retention permit must have been applied for and granted before obtaining US citizenship.

We would be happy to advise you on all topics related to obtaining a green card, from the initial consultation to the evaluation of tax implications or applying for US citizenship. Our experienced US Visa Law Attorneyst help you.

Requirements for applying for a green card

A green card grants many rights, but these are also accompanied by some obligations:

  • Green card holders have to move their center of life to the USA and keep it. Otherwise you risk losing your green card.
  • Stays outside the USA for less than six months in a row are generally unproblematic. If you are abroad for between six months and a year, re-entry as a green card holder can be problematic. In such cases, a US border guard may well ask questions and, if necessary, request documents that prove that a US center of life has been retained.
  • People who have stayed outside the USA for more than a year must generally apply for a special visa in order to be able to re-enter the USA as a green card holder. One such Returning Resident Visa is only issued if special requirements are met. In practice you can also try without one Returning Resident Visa Re-entering the United States if you have been outside the United States for more than a year. However, such an attempt is associated with considerable risks and experience has shown that this requires prior consultation with a lawyer.

Reentry Permit for green card holders

Anyone who knows before leaving that they will be spending a longer period outside the USA can apply for a so-called Reentry Permit apply for. This allows him to stay outside the US for up to two years without having to re-enter Returning Resident Visa to have to apply. But also the owner of one Reentry Permit must be prepared to precisely describe and justify his stay outside the USA when re-entering the USA.

Tax consequences

Last but not least, they should tax consequences a green card - both US and home tax law should be considered. If you have a green card and have accordingly moved your center of life to the USA, you must of course pay US taxes. Even if you have kept your green card but now live abroad, you still have to file US tax returns and, if necessary, pay US taxes. Of course, you can also give up a green card by submitting a form to a US consulate abroad.

Job-based vs. family-based green cards

There are basically two categories: job-based and family-based green cards. The former can be applied for jointly by employers and employees, the latter by family members of US citizens and US green card holders.

However, there are exceptions for certain groups of people:

  • Through the so-called EB-5 Investment Program investors can also purchase a green card.
  • People with exceptional abilities can have a so-called self-petition Apply for a green card in category EB-1 even without a job or job offer.
  • People who pursue an activity that is in the national interest of the USA can use category EB-2 to obtain a green card without an employer.
  • For all other people, participation in the green card lottery is also an option.

Workplace-based green cards

The workplace-based green cards are allocated, i.e. only a limited number of such green cards are issued per tax year. If more applications are received in a category than green cards can be issued, the "excess applications" will be placed on a waiting list, i.e. the application will not be rejected, but will not be processed for the time being.

A job offer is required for all job-based green cards. The only exception to this is the first sub-category of category EB-1 (workers with extraordinary ability) and category EB-2 if the applicant's activity in the USA is in the national interest.

The potential US employer must also show that he has not found an American for the position (labor certification). The only exception to this are categories EB-1 (all sub-categories), EB-2, if, as described, the applicant's activity is in the national interest, EB-4 and EB-5.

The workplace-based green cards are divided into the following sub-categories:

  • EB-1 For
    • workers with extraordinary ability: Individuals with exceptional skills (international or national recognition required)
    • outstanding professors and researchers: internationally recognized researchers or university professors
    • multinational executives and managers: Managers or executives of international corporations
  • EB-2 For
    • advanced degree professionals: People who pursue a profession for which a US bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement and who have a higher degree than that of the US bachelor's degree (or a comparable foreign degree) (e.g. master's, doctoral degree) or a bachelor's degree and at least five years of professional experience
    • Persons with exceptional ability: People who have special skills in their profession (national recognition is sufficient)
  • EB-3 For
    • professional workers: Individuals with a profession that typically requires at least a US bachelor's degree and those who have obtained such a US bachelor's degree or an equivalent foreign degree
    • skilled workers: People who have a job that requires at least two years of training
    • unskilled workers: People in a profession that does not require such training
  • EB-4 for
    • Members of religious or religious communities who want to exercise the activity of a clergyman (pastor, preacher, etc.) in the USA
  • EB-5 For
    • Individuals who intend to invest one million US dollars in an existing or new company to create ten full-time jobs. If the company is located in an economically weak region, an investment of half a million US dollars is sufficient

Family-based green cards

With the exception of the IR category (immediate relative) the family-based green cards are also subject to a quota, i.e. only a limited number of such green cards are issued per tax year, which means that "excess applications" are temporarily not processed, but rather placed on a waiting list.

The family-based green cards are broken down as follows:

  • IR category (immediate relative) for close relatives of US citizens
    • IR-1 for spouses
    • IR-2 for unmarried children under the age of 21
    • IR-3 for orphans adopted abroad
    • IR-4 for orphans who have been adopted in the United States
    • IR-5 for parents of a U.S. citizen who is 21 years or older
  • F category (family preference relative) for certain other relatives of US citizens and possibly green card holders
    • F1 for unmarried children of a US citizen over the age of 21
    • F2 for spouses, minor children or unmarried children of at least 21 years of age of people living in the USA with a Green Card
    • F3 for married children of a US citizen and their spouse and minor children
    • F4 for siblings of a US citizen 21 or older, their spouse, and minor children

Advice on the US green card from experienced lawyers

Have you decided to apply for a green card? Would you like our experienced lawyers to accompany your green card application professionally? We would be happy to give you comprehensive advice on applying for a green card and guide you through all the necessary steps. In addition to advice on visa law and checking whether you can keep your German citizenship, our lawyers evaluate the tax effects of your US naturalization.

Your contact is Attorney Thomas Schwab. Please contact us at any time if you would like to make an appointment for a consultation with our experts, either via ourOnline appointment booking system, by email ([email protected]) or by phone (069 76 75 77 80).

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