A narrative of a permanent resident card

A green cards and a pamphlet that says "Welcome to the United States" - permanent resident card
IStock/Welcomia

Every immigrant has a different path to getting a permanent resident card in the USA. Read about one newcomer’s experience and what it taught her. 

My path to getting a permanent resident card (also known as a green card) was a bit unclear. I was too young to know how somebody who immigrated to the USA applies for a green card but old enough to know that this was a way to confirm our legal status in the country.

As an adult, I understand that my mom, sisters, and I arrived in the USA through a K-1 visa also known as a fiancé visa.

We were given a temporary resident card for two years, with a path to a green card. During those two years, we promised not to be a burden to the US government and my stepdad promised to be fully financially responsible for us.

As our time to receive the card arrived, I remember the worry and suspense building up. Going to the immigration office in Los Angeles to provide extra documents for our card was a mixture of emotions. But our concern turned to happiness when we realized we were permanent residents of the United States.

The permanent resident card provided us legal status for ten years. But what did legal status mean?

For me, a permanent resident card was more than a form of identification. It was my way to travel in and out of the country without any problems. It was my way to travel by plane inside the country It was my way to apply to college and receive financial aid. In a few words, it was my proof of legal residency in the United States. The very famous A-number in every green card became more than just a number. It was proof that allowed my family and me to live, work, study, and travel without complications.

However, even with all the benefits I had as a permanent resident, I realized that I was not closed to having all the rights that a US citizen has.

As I turned 18 and elections arrived, I found myself unable to vote – unable to politically participate.

I was studying government. I studied about elections studied campaigns, and here I was, unable to cast my vote. It was a right that people with a permanent resident card do not have. During my time in college, I also found myself filling out extra Visa forms to travel to Asia because my permanent resident card was not enough proof of my status in the United States.

Looking back, these moments only helped me understand the importance of taking the next step to becoming a US citizen.

It was great to have a permanent resident card but it is even greater to know that a permanent resident card is a path to a US citizenship.

Refugees shaking hands

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