If you are an immigrant in the United States, or if you are planning to come to the United States, and if you are ready to become a lawful permanent resident – that is, if you are ready to apply for a green card – what will you need to know, and what will you need to do? Can a Las Vegas immigration law firm help?
A green card holder (that is, a lawful permanent resident) is an immigrant who is authorized to live and work permanently in the U.S. As proof of that status, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives that immigrant a lawful permanent resident card commonly called a green card.
HOW CAN YOU BECOME A LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENT?
There are several ways to become a lawful permanent resident. Most green card holders are sponsored by a relative or by an employer in the United States. Others qualify through refugee or asylum status. International investors may qualify on the basis of an EB-5 visa.
When you seek to become a lawful permanent resident, you will need the advice and assistance that an experienced immigration attorney can offer.
An immigration lawyer can determine if you qualify for a green card, walk you through the paperwork, and help you avoid any misunderstandings or mistakes that could delay your green card or cause your application to be rejected.
WHO CAN OBTAIN A GREEN CARD?
Most of the persons who seek a green card will belong to one of the categories listed below, but if you do not see yourself described here, you may still qualify.
The rules include a number of exceptions and exemptions, and in any individual case, you may need an immigration attorney’s help to determine if you qualify for a green card.
WHO CAN BE SPONSORED BY A FAMILY MEMBER?
You may qualify for a green card as the immediate family member of a United States citizen if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, the child of a U.S. citizen, or the parent or sibling of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.
If you are related to a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you may qualify for a green card as the spouse or as the unmarried child of that lawful permanent resident.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR FIANCÉ OR FIANCÉE?
The fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen – and that person’s children – may qualify for a green card. You may also qualify if you are the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married to that person at the time of his or her death.
Finally, under the federal Violence Against Women Act, you may qualify for a green card if you are the abused parent of a U.S. citizen or if you are the abused spouse or abused under-age-21 child of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
WHO CAN BE SPONSORED BY AN EMPLOYER?
A green card may also be obtained through a range of employment-based immigration options. Many of these options require the sponsorship of a U.S. employer. The employer must intend to hire the foreign national on a long-term basis for a position that is not considered temporary.
If you currently hold an EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 visa, you may qualify to become a lawful permanent resident. A qualified immigration lawyer can help you through the process.
WHO ELSE MAY OBTAIN A GREEN CARD?
International investors who are approved for an EB-5 visa on the basis of an investment in a new or ongoing U.S. business or development project will automatically qualify for a green card along with their immediate family members.
If you have been granted refugee status or asylum status, you may apply for a green card after you have been physically in the United States for at least one year.
It is important to remember, as mentioned previously, that what is presented here is not an exhaustive list of everyone who may qualify to obtain a green card in the United States. Every immigrant and every immigrant’s situation is unique.
WHAT IS FORM I-485?
Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”) is the form used by a person who is already in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status.
If you are outside of the U.S., you may apply at a U.S. consulate for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a lawful permanent resident. This path is known as “consular processing.”
WHAT IS THE GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING A GREEN CARD?
The steps you must take to apply for a green card will vary depending on your individual situation. However, this is the process for most applicants:
1. Usually, someone (a relative or employer who is considered your “sponsor”) must file an immigrant petition for you. In some cases, however, you may be able to file for yourself.
2. After USCIS approves the immigrant petition, you’ll file either a green card application (Form I-485) with USCIS or a visa application with the U.S. Department of State.
3. You’ll go to an interview and to a biometrics appointment to provide photographs, fingerprints, and your signature.
4. You’ll receive an approval or a rejection of your application. If you receive a rejection, discuss your next move and your other options with your immigration lawyer.
WHAT ELSE IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER?
A reputable Las Vegas immigration attorney can explain your rights and options and guide you through the green card process. An immigration attorney can advise you about the specifics of your personal situation, and you should also keep in mind these general recommendations:
1. You must complete every piece of paperwork thoroughly and accurately. A green card application may be delayed or even denied if anything is inaccurate or incomplete. A good immigration attorney can see to it that your paperwork is filed properly.
2. Expect delays: Documents get lost frequently. Make and store copies of all documents. When you mail anything to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), send it by certified mail with a return receipt. And have patience – a green card takes some time.
3. Do not become a victim. Criminals target immigrants. Anyone who offers to sell you a green card is violating the law, and any green card that you obtain in that manner is fraudulent and useless. Work only with a skilled U.S. immigration attorney.
HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY HELP?
An experienced immigration lawyer can address your concerns, guide you through the green card process, and help you reach your other goals in the United States. Every immigration process takes time, so get started as early as you can.
If you have any questions about green cards or any other immigration matter, obtain the advice of an immigration attorney as quickly as possible. A good attorney’s help is not only your right, but your future could depend on it.