How Can I Get a Green Card?
Need Help Getting A Green Card?
If you’re looking to make permanent residence in the United States a reality, the first step would be working toward becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident or “LPR”. As official as the name sounds, it is really just the formal title of a green card holder. Perhaps the most advantageous factor of having a green card, aside from permanent residence, is that it allows you to eventually apply for citizenship. Having a green card will also allow you to seek employment in the U.S. without the need for employer sponsorship or a work permit.
The process of obtaining a green card is not a sure thing by any definition. For some, the process can be long and sometimes very difficult. For others, it can seem like a straightforward and step-by-step process. Try as one may, there are situations where an applicant can still be found “inadmissible” for a variety of reasons such as past immigration violations or communicable health problems. Still, if you are fortunate enough to be eligible, it is definitely worth it to apply for a green card as it gives you the stability of permanent residency. Most folks don’t realize that there are a variety of ways to apply. If you’re asking, “how can I get a green card”? Have no fear, listed below are a few of the most common ways to get a green card:
Getting a green card through an “immediate relative” family member is a common way many people use to apply for a green card. This category of “immediate relatives” includes:
- Unmarried children (and stepchildren) under the age of 21, and stepparents if their marriage occurred before the child was 18
- Spouses, widows, and widowers of U.S. citizens
- Parents of a U.S. citizen if the citizen over 21
- Adopted children for those that were adopted before 16
The U.S. imposes no limit on the number of immediate family members a U.S. citizen can claim each year.
Employer-sponsored or Work-based
If you are a worker who can offer skills that no one in the local market can provide, you’re in luck! There are green cards specifically for you and others like you. The only tricky thing is that this green card category often requires you to already have a job offer, and requires active involvement from your employer before and throughout the application process.
However, if you fit into the categories of “investor”, “extraordinary ability”, or “exceptional ability”, a job offer is not required to apply. Order of preference for this green card is as follows:
- Those with extraordinary ability in the education, arts, sciences, athletics, or business fields; outstanding professors and researchers; managers and executives of multinational companies
- Professionals with advanced degrees and/or exceptional ability
- Work for an employer without sponsorship
- Professional and skilled or unskilled workers
- Religious and other various miscellaneous workers
- Investors that are willing to put $1 million into a U.S. business, or $500,00 into a business residing in a depressed area; the investment must generate at least 10 new jobs.
Special Immigrant Status
When they say special, they mean it. The categories that comprise the “special immigrants” group are each so specific that they hardly apply to most people. In order to apply under this group to get a green card, you must be one of the following:
- Foreign medical graduates who immigrated before January 10, 1978 on an H or J visa and meet other specified conditions
- Those former employees who are retired from international organizations
- Those who are declared dependent in a juvenile court
- Religious workers (such as clergy and cantors)
- Those in military service for at least 12 years
Asylum-seekers and Refugees
With the rise of terrorism in the past few decades, this category has been in the news more and more frequently. If you are or have fear of persecution in your country based on religion, race , political opinion, nationality, or association with a social group, then the U.S. can offer refuge to you and others in similar situations.
Each year, the limit on the number of refugees admitted into the country changes; however, there is no limit on those who apply for asylum from within the United States. After one year of residence, those in the U.S. under this category can apply for permanent resident status.
The Green Card Lottery
Strange as it sounds, there are 50,000 green cards available each year that are distributed through a lottery system, however, it is only for those applicants who are from certain countries that have historically sent the least amount of immigrants. The good news, though, is that the application is free, which is probably why the lottery is as popular as it is.
One thing to note, though, because you are competing with so many other applicants, the chances of being selected to get a green card are low, and even those selected must file the paperwork quickly and accurately or miss out on the opportunity.
Cancellation of Removal
The cancellation of the “removal process” is one with certain guidelines where you must have:
- Been in the United States for more than 10 years
- Not broken any laws (“has good moral character”)
- Absence that would cause “extraordinary and exceptionally unusual hardship” to U.S. citizen children or spouses were they to be deported
If you meet these guidelines and your removal proceedings are cancelled, you can request permanent residence from a U.S. judge.
One thing to note is that this process only applies to those who are actively fighting removal proceedings in immigrant court. You cannot apply for a cancellation of removal.
Still need convincing on the benefits of a green card? Check out this post where we give you the run down on green card benefits.
And if you are interested in information on renewing your green card, this is the right place to go.
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The newsletters and articles found in this blog are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. They are not offered as and do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions.