A Green card, also referred to as a Permanent Resident Card, allows you to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. If you’re interested in learning more about the step-by-step process of obtaining a Green Card, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll find a summary of green card eligibility, the basic forms you’ll need to complete, and what the generalized application process looks like.
Eligibility for Obtaining a Green Card
Before you can start the process of obtaining a Green Card, you have to know if you’re eligible to receive one. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official website has a list of Green Card Eligibility categories. In order to apply, you must fall into one of the categories listed. Once you find the category that you believe applies to you, you can follow the specific set of instructions listed under that heading. The Green Card Eligibility Categories are:
- Green Card Through Family
- Green Card Through Employment
- Green Card as a Special Immigrant (for example, a religious worker employee of an international organization)
- Green Card Through a Refugee or Asylum Status
- Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
- Green Card for Victims of Abuse
- Green Card Through a Registry (you may register for a Green Card if you have resided continuously in the U.S. since before January 1st, 1972)
Being Sponsored for a Green Card
There are two forms that are necessary for almost every individual who wishes to obtain a Green Card. First, you’ll need to complete an immigration petition. This is the form that someone else must file on your behalf. This person is often referred to as a sponsor. Sponsors are normally family members or an employer. In some cases, you are able to petition for yourself, but that will depend on the eligibility category that you fall into. The second form is the Green Card application form (Form I-485). There are various other forms that are specific to your type of sponsor, your eligibility category, and your immigration status. You can access these forms on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Inside or Outside of the United States
Once you know your eligibility category, the forms that you’re required to complete, and your sponsorship status, you can move onto the next step. The next step in obtaining a green card is determined by where you are applying from. If you are inside of the United States, you’re required to use the adjustment of status application process. This application process is through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department. If you are outside of the United States, you must use the consular processing application process. This application process is through the United States Department of State. It’s important to note that the Trump administration is seeking to close multiple United States Citizenship and Immigration Services field offices around the world in various places. This may slow down the application process in certain areas. Stay connected with an immigration lawyer for updates on if and how these closures could affect you or your family.
The Green Card Application Process
It’s clear that everyone obtaining a green card will go through a unique application process. Each individual will require different forms and procedures depending on your specific situation. However, there is a generalized application process that can apply to most people.
- You or your sponsor will file an immigration petition.
- Once the USCIS approves the petition, you’ll know if there is a visa available in your eligibility category. Then, you’ll file an application through the USCIS if you are located in the United States, or the U.S. Department of State if you are outside of the United States.
- You’ll schedule a biometrics appointment. This is when you will be required to provide fingerprints, photos, and an official signature.
- You’ll schedule an interview with a representative from the USCIS.
- A decision will be made based off of the information you provided in your application.
If you’ve already completed all of these steps, that means that your Green Card application is pending. You can check your pending status on the USCIS website for more information. You can check your status, update or edit your personal information, or schedule appointments with a representative.
For More Information on Obtaining a Green Card
If you’re interested in receiving more information about obtaining a Green Card, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer. While it is possible to go through the Green Card application process alone, it’s not recommended. Immigration applications are often very complicated and immigration laws and procedures change constantly. It’s important to have an immigration law expert on your side when you’re completing this process. Contact Henner Law today to learn more about obtaining a green card!