Getting a green card indicates that its holder is a permanent resident who is granted the rights for entry, exit, work, and residency in the United States, along with the eventual application for naturalization. This article serves as a guide in applying for a green card and provides information to help you through the application process.

Checking your eligibility for a green card.

Before you start working on your application form, it’s important to make sure that you qualify in one of the eligibility categories below and meet the eligibility requirements of the subcategory you fall under.

1. Immediate Relatives

An unlimited number of green cards are available for immediate relatives of citizens of the US. Individuals to qualify for this category include spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of a US citizen.

2. Other Family Members

This is a preference category, which means that a limited number of green cards are available to apply for, and follow a first-come, first-served system. This applies to spouses and unmarried children of a green card holder, unmarried children or siblings who are at least 21 years old, and married individuals with one US citizen parent.

3. Preferred Employees and Workers

get a green cardThis is a preference category with an annual limit of 140,000 green cards. In most cases, a job offer is also required, and the employer must prove that it has recruited for the job and not found any willing, able, qualified US workers to hire instead of the immigrant. Five preferences are available in this category.

4. Green Card Lotteries for Ethnic Diversity

Around 50,000 green cards are available for people in countries that have sent the fewest immigrants to the United States.

5. Special Immigrants

There are some laws passed that make green cards available for individuals in special circumstances, such as young people under the care of a juvenile court, international broadcasters, and retired employees of the US government abroad.

6. Refugees and Asylees

Those who have been granted a refugee or asylum status due to persecution in their home country can submit an application for a green card at least a year after they have received the status.

7. Long-time Residents

Individuals who have been illegally residing in the US for more than ten years are allowed to request for permanent residency in their immigration removal court proceedings. It is necessary to prove that your family will face exceptional and extremely unusual hardship should the court not grant you the cancellation of removal. Consult with a green card attorney before proceeding to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if you believe you qualify for this category.

8. Special Cases

It is possible for members of Congress to intervene with green card proceedings and help applicants obtain permanent residence even if the law does not allow it.

Your eligibility category determines which application form you need to fill out and whether you need to file a petition along with it. Given the various categories available and the possible complications posed by your specific circumstances, it is advised that you hire an immigration attorney who is knowledgeable in immigration laws to help you through the immigration process.

Going through the appropriate application process.

After submitting your immigration petition, either by filing for yourself or having someone sponsoring or petitioning for you, you have to determine which process you will use to obtain a green card.

Adjustment of status applies to applicants who are in the United States. Once the immigration petition is approved and an immigrant visa is available, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status can be filed to the USCIS.

Consular processing applies to those who are outside the country. Once a decision has been made on your immigration and visa petition, both the beneficiary and the petitioner will be notified.

Attending your appointments and/or interviews.

In the process to adjust status, you will have to go to your biometric services appointment in an Application Support Center (ASC). You are also required to appear in an interview with the originals of the paperwork you provided if USCIS deems it necessary.

The consular office schedules interviews for applicants going through consular processing once a visa is available or your priority date is within the cut-off date listed. You are required to attend the interview to process your case and determine if you are eligible for an immigrant visa. 

Afterward, it’s just a matter of waiting to receive the decision for your application. If you are looking to get a green card, contact Diener Law and get in touch with experienced immigration attorneys to handle the required paperwork and avoid unnecessary delays.