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There may be a number of reasons why an individual would want to immigrate to the United States. However, in order to live here legally after residing as a permanent citizen in another country, there is a process that must be undertaken. Obtaining residence in the U.S. as an immigrant is not always a guarantee and there is often a mountain of paperwork associated with the process. It starts with knowing the process and the status that must be applied for as an immigrant. After all, depending on the reason for entering and residing in the country and the background, financial status and employment skills of an immigrant, they may or may not be granted a green card or visa and, ultimately, the opportunity to apply for citizenship.
Any immigrant will tell you that the road to citizenship is not an easy one, though for the numerous individuals that have gone through the process, it is well worth the extra work and effort involved to assure permanent residence in the U.S. There are two types of citizens: those that were designated as such as birth and those that become citizens after birth. To be considered a natural born citizen, an individual must have been born in the U.S. or in one of the U.S. territories or have been born to parents that are citizens of the U.S. at the time of birth. To gain citizenship after birth, individuals must apply for citizenship through their parents or take the naturalization test (which quizzes subjects on English and U.S. history).
Green cards designate individuals as permanent residents of the United States. This allows these individuals to retain the ability to live and work in the country without restriction. It is known as a green card because its color. While the individual has permissions to live and work in the country, these permissions can be stripped by the U.S. government if the conditions of the cards are not met. This includes periodic renewal and adherence to the laws of the United States and cardholders should have their cards on them at all times. Failure to do could result in a fine and/or 30 days in jail as a result of such an offense; however, the federal government is the only agency that can levy said charges against green card holders. Green cards are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services organization.
A visa is a document provided to individuals that are traveling into the U.S., or into other countries. It provides the person in question with permission to enter a country or territory for the reason stated on this particular document. It is generally used for travel purposes; in fact, in the U.S. it is often characterized by a stamp applied to a citizen's passport. There are usually conditions put in place when the visa is issued pertaining to how long the person can stay in the country, the geographic location applicable to the visa and the date of issue.