When a person wishes to live permanently in the United States they apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, otherwise known as a “greencard.” Under immigration law there are many paths by which a person could become an LPR including via family petitions, petitions by an employer, refugee/asylee status, the diversity visa lottery, and special programs for certain designated countries such as Cuba and Haiti. A person who is already in the United States, who meets the requirements necessary for permanent residency, may apply using USCIS Form I-485. A person who resides abroad may apply for permanent resident status when there is an immigrant visa is available to them based on an underlying program or petition. The US Department of State issues all visas to the United States, and the form used to apply for an immigrant visa is known as DS-260.
Lawful Permanent Residents may live and work in the United States for an indefinite period of time. They are not allowed to vote in most US elections, but are subject to payment of income taxes. An LPR may travel abroad but should maintain his/her primary home in the United States. It is not recommended that an LPR travel outside the US for more than 6 months at a time.
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