Legal Permanent Resident – Green Card


What Is a Green Card?


A Path to Permanent US Residency

Ever wondered what is a green card? Do you dream of living and working in the United States? A Green Card could be your key to unlocking a world of opportunity. It allows you to build a future in the US and even pursue a fulfilling career. This opens doors to many benefits, including traveling freely within the US and eventually applying for citizenship.

Short Summary

  • A Green Card, or Permanent Resident Card, grants legal permanent resident status in the United States, allowing individuals to live and work in the country.
  • Family-based, employment-based, humanitarian, diversity lottery, special immigrant, and longtime resident green cards are among the various categories available, each with specific eligibility requirements and application processes.
  • The application process involves determining eligibility, filing necessary forms, providing supporting documentation, paying fees, attending biometrics and interviews, and awaiting a decision.
  • Green card holders enjoy the freedom to live and work anywhere in the US, travel without visa restrictions, pursue citizenship, access federal benefits, and qualify for in-state tuition at public universities.
  • To obtain a green card in North Carolina, you must gather specific documents including forms like N-550, N-570, N-560, N-561, and I-551, with the main form being I-485. 

What Is a Green Card? 

A green card, known as a Permanent Resident Card , is a government-issued identification document that verifies legal permanent resident status in the United States. It grants the holder the right to live and work permanently in the country.

In North Carolina, you can get a green card in different ways. You might have a family member or a boss in the US who helps you, or you could be a refugee, or someone who needs safety, or an individual applying on your own. The USCIS, a government agency, tells you what you need for each type of green card.

What are the Types of Green Cards? 

There are several categories for obtaining a green card, each with its own requirements. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types outlined by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

Family-Based Green Cards

Family-based immigration is a big part of how people come to the US It lets US citizens and permanent residents bring over their family members.

For US citizens

  • Spouses: Married partners can get a green card. They need to prove they’re married.
  • Kids Under 21: Children who are under 21, can eat too. Whether they’re biological, adopted, or step-kids, they are good. 
  • Parents: Once a citizen is 21 or older, they can sponsor their parents to come to the US

Other family members 

Other family members can also eat, but it takes longer because of limits

  • Adult Sons and Daughters: They can come if they’re not married, but there’s a wait.
  • Married Children: Even though they’re married, they can still come, but it takes a while.
  • Brothers and Sisters: They can come if the citizen is over 21, but it also takes time.

To start the process, the US citizen has to fill out a form and prove they can support their family member. Some family members can come right away, but others might have to wait for a visa to be available.

Employment-Based Green Cards

Granted to individuals with skills or qualifications deemed beneficial to the US economy. There are different preference categories based on skill level and job type. Let’s break down each type:

First Employment-Based Immigration Preference (EB-1)

Reserved for individuals with extraordinary ability in their field.

  • Extraordinary Ability: This is for people who are excellent at what they do, whether it’s in science, art, teaching, business, or sports . They need to prove how amazing they are with awards or recognition from all over the world.
  • Outstanding Professors and Researchers: These teachers or researchers who are known worldwide for being excellent in their field . They must have taught or researched for at least three years in that area.
  • Multinational Managers or Executives: These are bosses who have worked for a company outside the United States. They must work for at least a year in the three years before applying. They want to come to the US to keep working for that company in a big role.

Second Employment-Based Immigration Preference (EB-2)

For professionals with advanced degrees (Masters, PhD) or exceptional ability in their field (potentially with a national interest waiver).

Third Employment-Based Immigration Preference (EB-3)

For skilled workers (requiring 2 years of training/experience), professionals (with a bachelor’s degree), and other workers (jobs requiring less than 2 years of training but not temporary or seasonal). This category often has longer wait times due to higher demand.

Fourth Employment-Based Immigration Preference (EB-4)

This covers special groups like the following:

  • Religious workers, 
  • Workers at US foreign service places, 
  • People who used to work for international organizations and are now retired,
  • Kids from other countries who are under the care of US courts and,
  • Other groups set by immigration laws.

Fifth Employment-Based Immigration Preference (EB-5)

There are two main Green Card options for immigrant investors:

  • EB-5: Invest $1.8 million and create jobs. Company usually helps with paperwork, but it takes longer.
  • EB-1: Often faster, but requires proof of investment and job creation (more paperwork for you).

Humanitarian Green Cards

The US has programs to help people who are refugees, asylum seekers, and certain victims of crimes like human trafficking. These programs give them safety and a chance to stay in the US permanently. Here are some important ones:

  • Refugees and Asylees: People who can’t go back to their country because they might get harmed for reasons like their beliefs or who they are.
  • Other Categories: This includes people who were trafficked or victims of crimes. They can get special visas to stay safe in the United States. These programs follow rules to protect human rights and help those who need it.

Diversity Lottery Green Cards

Awarded through a random selection process to nationals of countries with historically low immigration rates to the US

Green Card as a Special Immigrant

This is a special kind of green card for certain people. It’s for religious workers, kids who need special protection, people from Afghanistan or Iraq, journalists who work worldwide, or workers for global groups.

Longtime-Resident Green Cards 

For certain individuals who have resided in the United States. Usually for an extended period under a temporary status and meet specific requirements.

This is not an exhaustive list, and USCIS offers more details on these categories and other lesser-known green card types on their website. It’s important to note that eligibility criteria can vary significantly, so consulting with an immigration attorney is the best way to determine the best path for you. 

What are the Benefits of Having a Green Card? 

A green card unlocks a world of possibilities in the United States. Here are some key advantages of becoming a legal permanent resident:

  • Live and Work Freely: The most fundamental benefit is the ability to live and work in the US for good. Without the limitations of temporary visas. You’ll have the freedom to choose your career path and pursue opportunities across the country.
  • Travel with Ease: Green cards end the need for constant visa renewals. Once you have your green card, you can freely travel outside the US and return without facing extra hurdles at the border.
  • Path to Citizenship: Holding a green card opens the door to applying for US citizenship after meeting specific residency requirements. Becoming a citizen grants you full political participation rights and strengthens your connection to the country.
  • Additional Advantages: Beyond these core benefits, green card holders can often access in-state tuition at public universities, qualify for certain federal benefits like Social Security, and own property without restrictions.

How to File for a Green Card? 

The process for filing a green card can vary depending on your eligibility category, but here’s a general outline based on guidelines from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • Determine Your Eligibility: The first step is to identify the green card category that best suits your situation. USCIS provides resources to help you navigate the different categories on their website.
  • Petition and Application Forms: Most categories require you or your sponsor (usually a US citizen relative or employer) to file specific forms with USCIS. These forms can be found on the USCIS website. Common forms include:
      1. Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): For family-based green cards.
      2. Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker): For employment-based green cards.
  • Supporting Documentation: You’ll need to gather documents to support your application, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of employment, and financial statements. USCIS provides detailed instructions on required documentation for each category.
  • Filing Fees: There are associated fees for filing green card applications and petitions. You can find the current fee schedule on the USCIS website.
  • Biometrics and Interview: After submitting your application, you must attend a biometric services appointment for fingerprints and photos. Also, an interview with a USCIS officer might be necessary depending on your category.
  • Decision and Next Steps: USCIS will review your application and petition. After they review all the documents and filing, they will make a decision. If approved, you’ll receive your green card in the mail. If denied, you may have options to appeal the decision.

Green Card Documents

To get a green card in North Carolina, you need to collect specific papers. These include forms like N-550, N-570, N-560, N-561 , and I-551 . The main form is I-485 , where you share personal details and your immigration past.

You may also need papers to show your identity or past visas. What you need depends on your situation and where you’re from. Look at the USCIS website or talk to a green card lawyer in North Carolina. By doing so, this will help you in making sure you have everything for your application.

Get That American Dream! Let Our Raleigh Immigration Lawyers Help You

Confused by the complexities of US immigration? Longing for a permanent place to live and work in the land of opportunity? A Green Card might be your answer, but navigating the process alone can feel overwhelming.

At Diener Law, our immigration attorneys can assess your eligibility for a Green Card, considering factors like family ties and employment skills. We provide comprehensive guidance through the application process, ensuring a strong application to minimize delays or denials. Trust Diener Law to streamline your immigration journey and achieve success.

Aside from our office in Raleigh, we also provide solutions and legal services on immigration and personal injury cases in Durham, Mount Olive, Greenville, Santa Ana, Lynwood, Greensboro, Mount Olive, Wilmington in North Carolina. 

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