You have the right to live and work in the US on a permanent basis if you have a green card also called the Lawful Permanent Residence status. But there are certain restrictions before you become a US citizen. You may not be entitled to the same public benefits or get the right to vote. Staying away from the US for extended periods could also cause you to forfeit your green card. Committing certain crimes, or violating certain laws could also get you deported to the country of your origin. Read on to know how to get a green card in three different ways.
What Is A Green Card?
A green card allows a holder to live and work permanently in the USA. This official ID document is a prevalent immigrant visa that gives its holder almost all the rights of a US citizen. It’s officially called Form I-551 or the Lawful Permanent Resident Card. It is a much sought-after immigrant visa and can be obtained either through the Green Card Lottery or one of the other processes for application. But how to get a green card that gives you unrestricted residence and work authorization for the USA?
As an immigrant to the US, the green card will be your key to transforming into a US citizen. And there are 3 main ways to get green card. The easiest way to get green card is through employers, family members, or if you are a person in exile or seeking asylum in the United States. It is a cumbersome process, but we’ll break up the process to make it easier.
How To Get A Green Card For A Family Member?
How to get a green card for your spouse or children? If a US citizen or a cardholder is a close relative of yours, they are allowed to petition so that you can get permanent legal residency. It is the easiest way to get green card, plus the preferred way to get into the US.
Spouses, Parents over 21 years, and unmarried children under 20 years are among those who can obtain a green card by way of the petition route. Under this family-based preference system, children under 21, and spouses of US permanent residents usually have a much shorter wait period that is between 2 to 24 months.
Children under 21, parents, and spouses are not listed in the Visa Bulletin as they are considered ‘immediate relatives. Under current immigration laws, they are straightaway entitled to immigration visa numbers. Theirs is the easiest route to a green card.
For getting a green card your relative has to substantiate the relationship through legal means. For admitting an alien relative, they have to use Form I-130.
The next step is filing Adjustment of Status or Form I-485. At times both the applications are processed at once. If the relatives reside outside the US, there is the consular process to consider, the process of going to a US embassy or consulate in their home country to complete the application for a lawful permanent residence/ it is the second part of the green card application process.
You can also apply for older children (more than 21), and siblings if you are a US citizen. But as they are not taken as immediate relatives, the procedure is longer. And the process gets lengthier if you are a green card holder.
How To Get A Green Card Through The Employment-Based Preference Category?
How to get a green card under the employment-based category? This process under the job-based preference category is not much different from the previous family-based category. But due to the stringent burden of proof, and high expenses for US employers, getting a green card through the workplace is tough and rarer.
The exact employment-based visa categories for immigrants that are permissible under the laws and the priorities for each category are available in the Visa Bulletin.
The Visa Bulletin is issued every month by the Department of State. It specifies the green card application that can move forward. It is based on when the I-130 petition, which starts the process of obtaining a green card, was originally filed.
There are specific categories to choose from for those opting for the work-based green card. The categories include
EB 1A & IB: Extraordinary Ability in science, arts, education, etc. Professors, researchers, and Ph.D. holders fall under this category.
EB 2: This includes people with advanced degrees and exceptional abilities in the field of science, arts, or business, and advanced professional degree holders. Around 40,000 cards are issued each year under this category.
EB 3: this category is for professionals who are highly skilled and have work experience. Only around 40,000 green cards are issued each year under this category, including 10,000 to unskilled workers.
EB 4: This category is for special immigrants and religious workers. Also known as the Employment-based Fourth Preference visa category, this category is reserved for immigrants that include Religious workers, Physicians, retired NATO-6 employees, or the spouse and children for deceased NATO-6 employees, etc.
EB 5: Under this category, foreign investors can obtain permanent residency in the US. It was created in 1990 to improve the US economy. It was restricted initially to those who invested or intended to invest in a Targeted Employment Area or a new commercial enterprise. But they are also allowed to invest in existing commercial enterprises.
Depending on which option you decide to go with, the gross amounts to be invested in each project will vary and the EB-5 visa processing time may also be affected.
How To Get A Green Card Through The Asylum Process?
How to get a green card if you are an asylum seeker? As an asylum seeker, you can apply for a green card a year after a person enters the United States. And you can also apply simultaneously for their spouse and children.
Asylees are those who enter the US through illegal or legal means as they are fleeing the fear of persecution or violence in their country. As a cardholder under this category, you can travel in and out of the US with advance parole.
The one year required for getting the asylee status is counted from the day the USCIS approves the asylum request. Days spent outside the US will not be counted. You must also continue to meet the definition of a refugee and not travel back to the country from which you have fled.
You must also not have received a permanent residence or citizenship offer in a third country. You could also be barred if you have a criminal record, on grounds of health, for national security reasons, and fraud or misrepresentation.
Completing The Process Of Getting A Green Card
Once you have determined your category, you have to submit the following forms and petitions to get through the process.
You must complete Form I-130 for Alien Relative) if you are an immediate relative of a green card holder or a US citizen.
If you are filing through your immediate employer, the right form is Form I-140 (for Alien Worker).
As an investor, you have to file Form I-156 (for Alien Entrepreneurs).
And then there is Form I-360 (for Amerasian, special immigrants or widows/widowers.
Once your visa is available, you are permitted to complete Form I485 (to Adjust Status). It is necessary to apply without error as it will be immediately rejected.
Then comes the biometric appointment to check your background. You will be required to provide your photograph, fingerprints, and your electronic signature.
The Immigrant Interview
The final step is the interview. You will have to face an immigration officer and will be required to face questions linked with your application. The employer or relative who applied for you may also be called to the process. You should bring all pertinent documents to the appointment. That includes your passport and travel documents. There are other ways on how to get a green card. There is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or the Green Card Lottery that makes available 55,000 green cards every year to randomly selected entrants from eligible countries.