There are two primary paths for applicants to get a Green Card (also known as permanent resident status or immigrant visa). An individual who has an approved immigrant petition (whether applied through a family member or employment offer) and has a current “priority date” (verified through the Visa Bulletin system) may apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad (referred to as “Consular Processing”) for their permanent residence or, if legally in the U.S., apply for “adjustment of status”.
There are also other ways to obtain a Green Card, including:
-Obtaining a green card through a $1 million or $500,000 investment; learn more about the EB-5 program.
– Obtaining a green card through the Diversity Lottery, open to certain nationalities at a specific time each year; learn more about the Green Card Lottery.
– Obtaining a green card after political asylum granted.
Determine Your Basis to Immigrate:
The first step in your Green Card application is to find the best category in which to process your application. Considerations of processing time, cost, family, and where the applicant is residing physically during the process will bear upon the option selected. Most immigrants obtain their Green Card through a family or employment based petition. Some become permanent residents through refugee or asylum status, or other lesser known options, though these are much more challenging and difficult to achieve.
A consultation with our office will determine your best path toward permanent residency. Sometimes we find several options you can take simultaneously, increasing your chances of success.
1. File the Immigrant Petition
When you decide what category you believe best fits your situation, in most cases you will need to have an immigrant petition filed on your behalf. Our office can help you in this decision and application process.
Family based categories require that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident immediate relative file a Petition on your behalf. There are categories for spouse, child, parent or sibling of a U.S. Citizen or the spouse or child of a Permanent Resident.
Employment based categories most often require the U.S. employer to start the process through the Department of Labor, a complicated and lengthy process of certification known as the PERM process. Processing times vary and depend on country of origin but for most, the application time is currently taking 1-2 years.
International Executives/ Managers and certain Extraordinary Individuals can skip the Dept. of Labor step of the process and file directly with U.S.C.I.S. making the road toward permanent residency much shorter. For more information, contact us to determine if you qualify for one of these categories.
Entrepreneurs who intend to invest significant amounts of capital into a business venture in the United States may invest $500,000 or $1 million on their own behalf to obtain their permanent residence through the EB-5 Program. For more information, see the EB-5 section.
Special Classes of Immigrants
In some cases, certain immigrants may qualify as a Special Immigrant, including Religious Workers with a sponsoring employer.
For more information, contact our office.
2. Wait for a Decision on Your Petition
U.S.C.I.S. notifies the petitioner and attorney of a decision. If the petition is approved and if you are the beneficiary of the petition living outside the United States or choose to apply for your immigrant visa abroad, U.S.C.I.S. will then send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until your priority date becomes current. You can check the Visa Bulletin for your priority date progress.
3. Go to Your Appointment
Once the beneficiary’s priority date is current, the Consulate will schedule the applicant for an interview at which time a decision will be made if the beneficiary is eligible for permanent residence in the U.S.
4. After arriving in the U.S., and being processed at the port of entry, the green card will be mailed to the address on file.
Adjustment of Status in the U.S.
5. Adjustment of Status:
Adjustment of status refers to the procedure of applying for a Green Card while legally in the U.S. when an immigrant visa becomes available through any number of options. This is often the most popular route to permanent residence because it avoids having to leave the United States.
6. Statutory Bars to Adjustment of Status
There are several categories of potential immigrants who cannot apply for adjustment of status in the U.S.:
Foreign National Crewmen
Those who, at the time of arrival, were employed on board a ship or plane or were en route to join a ship or plane in the United States are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status in the U.S.; they must apply from abroad.
Transits Without Visas (“TWOV”)
Potential applicants who are in transit through the United States to a foreign destination are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status in the U.S.; they must also apply from abroad.
Potential Applicants for Permanent Residence Who Entered Under The Visa Waiver Program
Any individual who came to the U.S. and was admitted as a visitor from a “Visa Waiver” country cannot apply for adjustment of status in the U.S., unless applying through marriage to a U.S. citizen, the parent of a U.S. citizen, or the minor child of a U.S. citizen.
Unauthorized Employment, Unlawful Status or Failure to Maintain Status
Potential applicants for Permanent Residence who have violated their stay in the U.S. by either working illegally, not complying with the terms of their visa, or overstaying their visa could be barred from applying for adjustment of status in the U.S. A consultation with our office will determine the options available and ways to cure these violations.
Adjustment Under Section §245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
Potential applicants for Permanent Residence who started an application prior to April 30, 2001 or were the beneficiaries of applicants (parents, siblings, etc.) filed before that date may qualify to adjust their status in the U.S. after careful review of their past immigration history. These are often overlooked opportunities that can lead to a Green Card so we strongly urge a detailed consultation with our office to determine if any path toward residence is available using this law.
All qualified beneficiaries can be “grandfathered” under this law as long as an application was begun by them or certain relatives or employers at the time even if the applications were never concluded.
Our office will evaluate your prior applications or those of immediate family members to determine if you qualify under this crucial law.
- TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GETTING YOUR GREEN CARD THROUGH THE EB-5 INVESTOR PROGRAM, CLICK HERE
- TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WINNING A GREEN CARD THROUGH THE DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY, CLICK HERE
- TO CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS WITH IMMIGRATION, CLICK HERE
- TO RENEW, REPLACE OR CORRECT AN ERROR ON YOUR GREEN CARD, CLICK HERE
- TO APPLY FOR YOUR PERMANENT GREEN CARD AFTER RECEIVING YOUR CONDITIONAL GREEN CARD THROUGH MARRIAGE, CLICK HERE