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Obtaining a green card: step by step instructions

Having a green card, or permanent residence permit, makes it possible to legally live and work in the United States. In addition, this is a step towards obtaining US citizenship. You can apply for a green card through your family, employer, and for other special reasons.

Obtaining a green card

1. Determination of the category of conformity

Green card through the family

This is one of the most common ways to get a green card and in many ways the easiest. If you are directly related to a US citizen, US immigration law allows your relative to petition for you to be able to live in the US.

  • Many people manage to get a green card as the closest relative of a US citizen. If you are a spouse of a US citizen, an unmarried child under the age of 21, or a parent of a US citizen over the age of 21, your relative is eligible to complete Form I-130, Petition for Foreign Relatives. You must then complete the Change of Status process to become a permanent resident of the United States. This procedure is slightly different for people who are not yet in the United States and is called “consular processing.” Visa issuance is the responsibility of the US Department of State and you will become a permanent resident as soon as you are allowed to enter the United States.
  • The procedure is similar, but more lengthy, if you are trying to get a green card through a close relative who is a permanent resident, but not yet a US citizen.
  • If you are over 21 years old or married, your next of kin status changes, and this may delay the receipt of a green card as a family member.
  • You can also get a green card for special family reasons. This includes if you are a child or spouse of a US citizen subject to domestic violence, or a widow or widower of a US citizen, or a child of a foreign diplomat who was born in the US.

Green card through work

This general category is divided into many subcategories, but essentially includes all cases of issuing a green card for reasons related to employment, investment or specialized work.

Determine if one of the following situations applies to you:

  • You have received an offer of permanent employment in the United States. If so, your employer will need to obtain a labor certificate.
  • You want to get a green card through investment. If you are an entrepreneur and have made an investment of either $ 1,000,000 or $ 500,000 in a business that creates new jobs, planning to create at least 10 jobs for US citizens, you can apply for a green card by investment. You need to complete Form I-526, Application for Immigration by Alien Entrepreneur.
  • You have outstanding ability and want to apply for a green card yourself. Very talented and extremely qualified individuals who are considered the best in their field (Nobel Prize winners, top athletes, etc.) can independently apply for a green card. This is an extremely rare category.
  • You fall under a special job category. If you are an Afghan or Iraqi translator, Afghan or Iraqi who assisted the US government, a member of the armed forces, or fall under another special category, you can obtain a green card this way.

Determine if you qualify as a refugee or are eligible to apply for political asylum in the United States.

In the event that you entered the United States as a refugee or seeking political asylum, or are a close relative of an asylum seeker in the United States, you can apply for a green card 1 year after entering the country.

  • If you are in the country as a refugee, it is mandatory for you to apply for a permanent residence permit after staying in the country for 1 year.
  • Or if you are in the country as a political refugee, you do not need to apply for a green card.

Obtaining a green card

2. Filling in the application and checking the availability of visas

After you have found out which category of immigrant you belong to, it is imperative that your family members or employer apply for you. In rare cases, you can intercede for yourself.

  • If you are getting a green card through your family, your relative must complete Form I-130, Petition for Foreign Relatives.
  • You get a green card through your employer, your employer must complete Form I -140, Petition for a Foreign Worker.
  • If you are an investor entrepreneur, you will need to complete Form I-526, Immigration Petition from Foreign Entrepreneur.
  • If you are in a special category, such as a widow or widower, complete Form I-360.
  • If you are a refugee or asylum seeker in the United States, then you most likely do not need to file an application if you qualify for a status change.

Check the availability of visa quotas for your category.

Once your family member, employer, or yourself has submitted the initial application, you should check for visa quotas before completing the remaining forms. The number of available visa quotas differs depending on your immigrant category and the country from which you emigrated.

  • For persons applying for a green card through the next of kin, the number of visa quotas is unlimited.
  • The number of visas issued to persons applying for a green card not through the immediate family and for employment purposes is limited. You will receive a priority date and will be placed on a waiting list until a visa is available.
  • You will receive a “Visa Bulletin” which will allow you to check your place in the visa queue.

Complete Form I-485, Application for Registration of Permanent Residence or Change in Status.

You must wait for your visa to be able to submit this form. Read the instructions for completing this form and make sure to submit all the required documents and information. Check if the address for submitting the form is correct.

  • If you are applying for a green card through your next of kin, you can file Form I-485 at the same time as your relatives apply for you, as the number of visas available for this category is unlimited.
  • The application fee is $ 1070.

3. Completion of the process and obtaining a green card

Submit your biometrics.

You will receive an invitation notification to the Claims Center, where they will take your fingerprints, photograph and sample your signature. The center uses this information to conduct an audit. In the future, your biometric data will be used to process your green card.

Go for an interview.

In some cases, you may be invited to an interview at the USCIS office to answer questions about your application. If you receive a notification, be sure to show up for the appointment. The notice must include the date, time and location of the interview.

  • In some cases, a family member who has applied for your green card may also be invited for an interview.
  • Bring your travel documents, passports and all other relevant documents with you to the interview.

Wait for the final decision and get your green card.

USCIS will review all of your paperwork, evaluate your interview if any, and make sure you meet all the requirements for permanent resident status. As soon as they make a decision, you will receive a notification by mail.

  • If your application was denied, you have the right to appeal.
  • If your application has been accepted, you will receive further instructions on obtaining a green card, including information on when it should be renewed.