Many foreign people dream of becoming legal U.S. residents, but the process can be difficult. Below is a description of the typical steps an applicant will face when applying for a Permanent Resident Card, also known as a green card. While this overview can be helpful, no two cases are ever the same, and speaking with a skilled immigration attorney is highly recommended.
It may be best to consult with an immigration attorney before you begin your application. Errors and misunderstandings during the immigration process can delay or prevent you from obtaining a green card. A skilled attorney can advise you on how to avoid costly mistakes.
There are five basic categories of eligibility for a green card, which vary based on your circumstances and reason for entering the U.S. This can include sponsorship from a family member or employer, seeking asylum due to persecution in your country of origin, or several other scenarios. A knowledgeable immigration attorney can help determine your eligibility and which type of application is most appropriate for you.
It is possible to file your immigration paperwork without an attorney but having someone on your side who understands the process and can help you prepare for what comes next can be extremely valuable. Our attorneys will explain the fees associated with your case and our payment options before you commit to working with us.
If you are already in the United States when applying for a green card, you will need to use a process known as adjustment of status. For applicants who live outside the U.S., the application will be processed by a United States Department of State consulate. This is known as consular processing.
Demonstrating your eligibility to receive a green card will require you to provide several documents to the U.S. government. Many of these can be submitted online, but some cannot. Your lawyer can assist you in determining which evidence to provide and how to submit it.
Most green card applicants will start the process by filing an immigrant petition. This is normally filed by a family member or employer if you are living outside the U.S. Once this is processed, a visa number will be issued. For some immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, a visa number is not needed.
Once the immigrant petition is approved, and a visa number is available if needed, the next step is normally to register for permanent residency or adjustment of status by filing Form I-485. In some specific cases, a different form may be used.
You will be notified by email that a biometrics interview is needed. This will take place at an Application Support Center and involves collecting fingerprints, photos, and sometimes other data to confirm your identity and complete security checks.
After reviewing your application, USCIS officials will decide if an in-person interview is necessary. You will be notified of the time and location, and at the interview, you will be required to present originals of all documents submitted with the Form I-485 application.
Finally, a written decision will be issued, and if approved, you will receive your green card soon after. If the application is denied, you will be informed of why and whether or not you may appeal the decision.
If you or a loved one is planning to apply for a green card, our skilled immigration attorney can help. Contact Sverdloff Law Group today to schedule a consultation and learn more.
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