Get a Green Card: A Comprehensive Guide to Permanent Residency in the United States
If you are someone who dreams of living in the United States, the first step towards achieving that goal is to get a Green Card. A Green Card is a legal document that allows immigrants to live and work permanently in the United States. It is also known as a Permanent Resident Card. The process of obtaining a Green Card is not an easy task; however, it is not impossible either.
This article is designed to provide you with everything you need to know about getting a Green Card, from the different types of Green Cards available to how to apply for one, and what are the requirements to maintain one. Let’s delve deeper.
Types of Green Cards
Before you begin the process of obtaining a Green Card, you must know that there are different ways to obtain one. Here are the various types of Green Cards that exist in the United States.
Family-Based Green Cards
If you have a family member or relative who is a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder, you may be eligible to apply for a family-based Green Card. This type of Green Card is available to the spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens. The Green Card holder can also sponsor their siblings, married children, and their spouses, and their children.
Employment-Based Green Cards
The most common way to get a Green Card is through employment. If you have a job offer from a U.S. employer, you may be eligible to apply for an employment-based Green Card. There are different categories of employment-based Green Cards, and each category has its own requirements. The employment-based Green Card categories are:
– EB-1: Priority Workers (for individuals with extraordinary ability in science, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and multinational managers or executives)
– EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability (for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in science, arts, or business)
– EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers (for individuals with at least two years of experience or training, professionals with a bachelor’s degree, and other workers with less than two years of experience or training)
– EB-4: Special Immigrants (for religious workers, certain employees of the U.S. government abroad, and other specific categories)
– EB-5: Immigrant Investors (for individuals who invest at least $1.8 million in a U.S. business that creates at least ten jobs for U.S. workers)
Diversity Visa Lottery
The Diversity Visa Lottery program, also known as the Green Card Lottery, allows people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for a Green Card. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of State and provides up to 55,000 Green Cards every year. To be eligible for the lottery, you must meet certain requirements, such as having a high school education or two years of work experience in a qualifying occupation.
Refugee or Asylee Status
Individuals who have been granted refugee status or asylum in the United States may be eligible to apply for a Green Card. A refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of persecution or fear of persecution, while an asylee is someone who seeks protection from the U.S. government because they fear persecution in their home country.
Requirements for Applying for a Green Card
Once you have determined which type of Green Card you are eligible for, the next step is to apply for one. The requirements for applying for a Green Card vary depending on the type of Green Card you are applying for. However, there are some general requirements that must be met regardless of the type of Green Card you are applying for.
– You must be admissible to the United States
– You must have an approved immigrant petition
– You must have an available visa number
– You must apply for adjustment of status or consular processing
Admissibility to the United States
Before the U.S. government grants you a Green Card, you must be deemed admissible to the United States. This means that you must not have any grounds of inadmissibility, such as a criminal record or a history of immigration fraud. The U.S. government will also evaluate whether you are a public charge, meaning that you are likely to become dependent on government assistance.
Approved Immigrant Petition
To obtain a Green Card, you must have an approved immigrant petition. This means that someone, either your family member, employer, or yourself, must file a petition on your behalf. The petition must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Available Visa Number
The U.S. government limits the number of Green Cards that can be issued each year. Therefore, before you apply for a Green Card, you must ensure that there is an available visa number for you. You can check the visa bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State to see if there is an available visa number for your category and priority date.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
To apply for a Green Card, you must either file for adjustment of status or consular processing. Adjustment of status is the process of applying for a Green Card while you are physically present in the United States. Consular processing is the process of applying for a Green Card while you are outside of the United States. It is important to note that not all Green Card categories allow for adjustment of status.
How to Apply for a Green Card
Now that you know the requirements for applying for a Green Card, let’s look at the steps involved in the application process.
Step 1: File an Immigrant Petition
As mentioned earlier, someone must file an immigrant petition on your behalf before you can apply for a Green Card. The specific form that must be filed depends on the type of Green Card you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a family-based Green Card, your U.S. citizen or Green Card holder relative must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. If you are applying for an employment-based Green Card, your employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
Step 2: Apply for Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
Once your immigrant petition is approved, you can apply for adjustment of status or consular processing. If you are applying for adjustment of status, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If you are applying for consular processing, you must follow the instructions provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.
Step 3: Attend the Green Card Interview
After you submit your application, you will be invited to attend a Green Card interview with a USCIS officer. The purpose of the interview is to verify the information you provided in your application and to determine whether you are admissible to the United States. During the interview, you may be asked questions about your background, your family, and your employment.
Step 4: Receive Your Green Card
If your Green Card application is approved, you will receive your Green Card in the mail. Your Green Card will have an expiration date, and you must renew it before it expires. It is also important to note that having a Green Card does not make you a U.S. citizen; it only gives you permanent residency in the United States.
Maintaining Your Green Card
Congratulations, you now have a Green Card! However, having a Green Card comes with certain responsibilities. Here are some things you must do to maintain your Green Card status.
– Do not leave the United States for too long: If you leave the United States for more than 180 days, it could be considered abandonment of your Green Card status. If you must leave the United States for an extended period, you can apply for a re-entry permit that allows you to stay outside of the United States for up to two years.
– File your taxes: As a Green Card holder, you must file your taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) every year, regardless of where you live.
– Do not commit any crimes: Committing a crime can result in the revocation of your Green Card status and deportation from the United States.
– Do not become a public charge: You must prove that you can support yourself financially and will not become dependent on government assistance.
Getting a Green Card is the first step towards achieving your dreams of living and working in the United States. Although the process can be challenging, it is not impossible. By understanding the different types of Green Cards available, the requirements for applying for a Green Card, and the responsibilities that come with having one, you can successfully navigate the process and become a permanent resident of the United States.