Obtaining a green card means obtaining lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States. An LPR is eligible to reside and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. An LPR may also travel internationally with certain restrictions and petition for certain family members to become U.S. residents. Immigrants obtain green card status through two major processes - consular processing and adjustment of status.
Consular processing occurs when the intending immigrant is outside of the U.S. and applies for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. When the immigrant presents the visa at a port of entry and is admitted into the U.S., they become a permanent resident. Adjustment of status is the process by which eligible immigrants apply for green card status while in the United States.
While there are many paths to obtaining a green card, most intending immigrants must be beneficiaries of an approved immigrant visa petition. The two major paths are through employment and family.