Permanent Visas and Green Cards
Permanent visas, symbolized by the receipt of a “green card,” allow a foreign national to permanently live and work in the U.S. A green card holder, officially a Lawful Permanent Resident, may generally enjoy all of the rights and share the same obligations as a U.S. citizen, with exceptions relating to political activity. After five years (or three if you are married to a U.S. citizen), a green card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship, though this is not required.
Green cards can be obtained in a number of different ways, but the primary avenues are family sponsorship and employment sponsorship. An immediate family relative who holds U.S. citizenship or a green card can sponsor you for a green card, as can a U.S. employer who offers a permanent, full-time job.
In general, it will take at least one year (and possibly longer) to complete the entire green card application process.