When you apply for a green card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, your legal permanent residency in the U.S. can be confirmed. Holding a Green Card allows individuals to live and work permanently in the United States and can lead to eventual eligibility for U.S. citizenship.
Eligibility Requirements for a Green Card
Family-Based Green Cards
If you have a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they may be able to sponsor your Green Card application. Eligible family members include spouses, children, parents, and siblings.
Employment-Based Green Cards
If you have a job offer in the United States or possess certain specialized skills or abilities, you may be eligible for an employment-based Green Card. This category includes individuals with advanced degrees, those with exceptional abilities, and those who will create jobs for U.S. workers.
Every year, the U.S. government holds a lottery for a limited number of Diversity Visas, which are available to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Refugee or Asylee Status
If you have been granted refugee or asylee status in the United States, you may be eligible for a Green Card after one year.
Other special circumstances may make you eligible for a Green Card, such as being a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or certain crimes.
It's important to note that even if you are eligible for a Green Card, there may be other requirements you need to meet, such as passing a medical exam or proving that you have a clean criminal record. Additionally, some categories of Green Cards have annual quotas, meaning there may be a waiting period before you can apply. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help determine your eligibility and navigate the application process.
Green Card Application Process
The application process for a Green Card can vary depending on factors, such as whether you are applying from within the United States or abroad and what category you are applying under. However, the general steps for obtaining a Green Card are as follows:
- Determine Eligibility. The first step is determining whether you are eligible for a Green Card. This can be based on family ties, employment, refugee or asylum status, or other special circumstances.
- File a Petition. Once you have determined your eligibility, you or your sponsor (if applicable) must file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor your application for a Green Card.
- Wait for Approval. After USCIS receives your petition, they will review it and decide whether to approve or deny it. This process can take several months to complete.
- Attend a Biometrics Appointment. If your petition is approved, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment to have your fingerprints, photograph, and signature taken.
- Attend an Interview (if required). Depending on the category you are applying under, you may be required to interview a USCIS officer to discuss your application and eligibility for a Green Card.
- Receive a Decision. After your biometrics appointment and/or interview, USCIS will decide on your Green Card application. If approved, you will receive your Green Card in the mail.
It's important to note that the Green Card application process can be complex and may require the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to navigate. Additionally, processing times can vary depending on factors such as USCIS workload and changes in immigration policy.
Filing Fees for a Green Card
Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status): $1,14
This fee is for applicants already in the United States and adjusting their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa): $325
This fee is for applicants outside the United States applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
Form I-130 (Family-Based Green Card): $535
This fee is for applicants sponsored by a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Form I-140 (Employment-Based Green Card): $700-$1,61
This fee is for applicants whose employer is sponsoring an employment-based Green Card. The fee can vary depending on the specific employment category.
Diversity Visa Lottery: No fee
There is no fee to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery, but if you are selected, you must pay a fee for processing your application.
It's important to note that these are just the filing fees, and other expenses may be associated with a Green Card application, such as medical exams or biometrics fees. Additionally, there may be other fees if you need to renew your Green Card or apply for a travel document. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help you understand all the fees and expenses of a Green Card application.
Biometric Fees for a Green Card
The biometric fee for a Green Card application is currently $85 per applicant. This fee covers taking your fingerprints, photograph, and signature at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC).
When you file your Green Card application, you will receive a notice from USCIS instructing you to appear at an ASC for your biometrics appointment. You must pay the biometric fee before your appointment. If you are filing Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) along with other forms, you only need to pay the biometric fee once.
It's important to note that the biometric fee is separate from the filing fees for the forms you submit as part of your Green Card application. Therefore, you need to budget for filing and biometric fees when applying for a Green Card.
Why Hire an Immigration Attorney for Your Green Card
An immigration attorney can review your situation and determine your eligibility for a Green Card based on your circumstances.
Selecting the Appropriate Category
You can apply for a Green Card in several categories, and an attorney can help you determine the best fit for you.
Preparing and Applying
An attorney can help you prepare and file all the necessary forms and supporting documents for a Green Card application. This includes reviewing your application for accuracy and completeness before submission.
Communicating with USCIS
An attorney can communicate with USCIS on your behalf, answer any questions they may have about your application, and address any issues or concerns that arise.
Representing you in Legal Proceedings
If your application is denied or legal issues arise during the application process, an attorney can represent you in legal proceedings, such as an appeal or a hearing.
Ensuring Compliance with Immigration Laws
An attorney can help you comply with all immigration laws and regulations, including helping you understand the impact of any criminal or immigration violations on your Green Card application.
Hiring an immigration attorney can provide peace of mind and increase your chances of success when applying for a Green Card.
Key Terms for Green Cards
- Permanent Residency: A Green Card grants an individual permanent residency in the United States, which means they can live and work in the U.S. indefinitely.
- Adjustment of Status: Adjust your immigration status from a temporary visa holder to a Green Card holder.
- Priority Date: The date determining an applicant's place in line for a Green Card based on their category and country of origin.
- Petitioner: The person or entity that sponsors an individual's Green Card application.
- Preference Category: The classification system for Green Card applicants based on family relationships or employment.
Final Thoughts on Green Cards
Obtaining a Green Card is a major step toward achieving permanent residency in the United States. The application process can be complex and time-consuming, but with careful preparation and attention to detail, it is possible to navigate it successfully.
It is important to stay up-to-date with the current filing fees and requirements and consider seeking the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to guide you through the process. With a Green Card, individuals can live and work in the United States indefinitely and access many of the same rights and privileges as U.S. citizens.
If you want free pricing proposals from vetted lawyers that are 60% less than typical law firms, click here to get started. By comparing multiple proposals for free, you can save the time and stress of finding a quality lawyer for your business needs.