Hot Spots
My GaramChai

FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi

This section will attempt to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions on Life in the US, Canada and North America that immigrants, visitors and others from different cultures attempt to address. If you have any additional inputs or wish  to see more topics addressed, mail us at

Permanent Resident (Green Card): A "green card" gives you official immigration status (Lawful Permanent Residency) in the United states As a Permanent Resident you have most of the rights of a United States Citizen but there are some exceptions. Rights:

  • To live permanently in the United States provided you do not commit any actions that would make you removable (deportable) under the immigration law (section 237, Immigration and Nationality Act).
  • To be employed in the United States at any legal work of your qualification and choosing.
  • To be protected by all of the laws of the United States, your state of residence and local jurisdictions.

Green Card : Alien Registration Card

A United States Permanent Resident Card, known popularly as a Green Card, is an identification card for a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States of America who does not have U.S. citizenship. It is proof that the holder has permission to permanently reside and take employment in the U.S. Its former official title was Alien Registration Receipt Card, and it is now officially called a Permanent Resident Card, also referred to as form I-551. - Green cards were formerly issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). That agency has been absorbed into and replaced by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Shortly after re-organization BCIS was re-named to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Wikipedia

Why is "Green card" not green?

A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) alien living in the United States may carry a card that is not green, but refers to it as a "green card". The name "green card" comes from the fact that the predecessor form, I-151, introduced at the end of World War II, was printed on green paper

The alien does so because the card bestows benefits, and those benefits came into being at a time when the card was actually green. Shown in the picture is a specimen greencard issued in 1995.The pattern and color keeps changing for security reasons.

Greencard Sample


What we know as a "green card" came in a variety of different colors at different times in its history. We still refer to it as "green card" for the same reason dismissal (layoff) notices are called "pink slips", sensationalized news is called "yellow journalism" and intended distractions are called "red herrings". In each case, an idea was originally associated with an actual item of the respective color.The green card is formally known as the Alien Registration Receipt Card, form I-151 or I-551. The first receipt cards were form AR-3 and were printed on white paper.

This receipt proved that a noncitizen of the United States did register, but it didn't indicate whether the alien was legal or illegal. After World War II, when a new wave of immigration began, the INS started issuing different documents to indicate whether an alien was a visitor, a temporary resident, or a permanent resident.

This method helped to identify the immigration status of each alien. Thus, the small, green I-151 had immediate value in identifying its holder as LPR, entitled to live and work indefinitely in the US. As early as 1947, LPRs protested delays in processing their I-151s, complaining that employees would not hire them until they could prove their permanent resident status.

By 1951, the green Alien Registration Receipt Card Form I-151 represented security to its holder. It indicated the right to permanently live and work in the US and instantly communicated that right to law enforcement officials. As a result of the card's cumbersome official title, aliens, immigration attorneys, and enforcement officers came to refer to it by its color. The term "green card" designated not only the document itself, but also the official status desired by so many legal nonimmigrant (students, tourists, temporary workers) and undocumented (illegal) aliens.

The status became so desirable that counterfeit form I-151s became a serious problem. To combat document fraud, the INS issued 19 different designs of the I-151 between its introduction in the 1940s and its complete revision in 1977. One alteration to the design in 1964 was to change the color of the card to blue. The 1964 edition was a pale blue. After 1965, it was a dark blue. Regardless of color, the I-151 still carried with it the benefits indicated by the term "green card", and those who wanted, obtained, issued, or inspected I-151s continued to refer to it by that name.

[Information in this mail is courtesy Elizabeth A Berrio, ex-Chief of the INS Historical Reference Library.]


Now That You Are A Permanent Resident

Now that you have become a Permanent Resident of the United States we would like to welcome and congratulate you on your accomplishment. Some of you came to the United States as immigrants through a relative or through an employer. Some of you came as refugees or were given asylum status. And some of you came through other programs, like the Diversity Visa Lottery. But now that you are Permanent Residents you all share the same status. You have certain rights and certain responsibilities as Permanent Residents. This document will give you a general idea of what those rights and responsibilities are and some other useful information related to your immigration status as a Permanent Resident. You may also wish to read Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants, a guide (in English and 10 other languages) containing practical information to help immigrants settle into everyday life in the United States, as well as basic civics information that introduces new immigrants to the U.S. system of government. - USCIS

Useful Links: US Citizenship and Immigration Services:: Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR), or "green cards"


Green Card and Permanent Residence system in different countries

Many other western countries also provide for a system similar to the US Green Card.

Canada: The Canadian government grants permanent residence visas to members of the Family Class and the Economic Class. The Economic Class primarily comprises of professionals and skilled workers under the skilled worker class, the Quebec skilled worker class and the provincial nominee class as well as business immigrants.

Using a point system, an applicant is assessed under the federal skilled worker class according to various factors that will indicate whether there is a strong likelihood that the applicant and dependents will successfully establish in Canada. Ideal applicants under the skilled worker class will possess employment skills and experience compatible with occupations "open" to prospective immigrants to Canada. The selection rules particularly favour applicants with government approved job offers in Canada.

Check out the official website of Immigration section, Government of Canada for details on immigration and latest legal updates.

United Kingdom (England) HSMP - The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme - Global Visas, authorized to provide UK immigration services and advice by The Office of Immigration Services Commissioner. The Program (HSMP UK) was created for highly skilled individuals wishing to remain or to come to the United Kingdom to work as employed or self-employed persons. You do not need a prior offer for a job or to take up self employment opportunities in order to have your visa application approved by the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate. You can apply to come and seek for jobs or self-employment opportunities in the United Kingdom.

Check out the Official UK Government website for information and updates.



Buy Visitor's Travel Insurance
Get A Quote


Trivia and Questions for Indians and Immigrants in America

General Trivia : Introduction //Dollars and Cents // Social Security Number // About Mail and USPS // Story of The Old Glory // Green Card– Why Not Green? // Telephone Area Codes // Convex Mirrors and Caution // Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 // Radio and TV Broadcasting // Consumerism: Trivia on Wal-Mart. // Retail Trivia // Gas Prices– What's 0.9 Cent? // Roads and Interstate Highways // Road Driving Trivia // Finance 101 // Daylight Saving Time // Trivia on Etiquette

FAQ Disclaimer: All information provided in these FAQ’s is deemed to be accurate by the author.  Due care has been exercised to ensure the veracity of this information and guidelines. However, there may be error (s) and omission (s) and all information is subject to change., and its affiliates do not assume any liability for the information provided herein. The reader is strongly recommended to confirm this information from official sources.

GaramChai © 1999-2008 || Terms of Use