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How to Get a Green Card

If you are an immigrant with hopes of becoming a U.S. citizen, getting a green card is a critical step. A green card permits you to work and live legally in the United States. It provides legal permanent residency.

To get a green card, you have three options. You can do so through a family member, through an employer, or as a refugee of another country.

Through Family

If you have relatives who are U.S. citizens or have green cards, they can petition for you to be granted a green card. You may qualify for his option if you are the spouse, unmarried child, or parent of a U.S. citizen. There are also options for married children and siblings, but that process will take longer.

Your relative will need to file USCIS Form I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative to verify your relationship, then Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status.

Obtaining a green card through family members is the fastest and most popular route.

Through an Employer or Business

If you have received an employment offer in the United States, your employer can assist with petitioning for your green card. The form required is USCIS Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker.

In addition, if you invest in a U.S. business, you can qualify for a green card. However, such investments are substantial: $1 million for a new business or $500,000 in a business located in specified rural or high-unemployment areas. The applicable form is I-526 Immigrant Petition by an Alien Entrepreneur.

Immigrants who are considered the best in their field can acquire a green card by first receiving an EB-1A visa. The requirements for this route are stringent, with applicants being world-renowned professionals, such as scientists, artists, and athletes.

As a Refugee

If you are entering the United States as a refugee of another nation, you can apply for a green card. However, you must reside in the country for an entire year before submitting the application. In most cases, you will not need to file USCIS forms I-130 or I-140. Instead, you can file I-485 for an adjustment of status.

After the Application

Once you have applied for a green card, you will receive information about attending a biometrics appointment. During that process, you will provide the immigration office with a photograph, your fingerprints, and an electronic signature. Then, officials will use that information to conduct a background check.

The next step will be an interview. During this meeting, you will answer questions about your family and your individual situation. You may need to bring family members with you to this interview, and you should be ready to provide your passport, travel information, and other documents.

The Final Decision

After the biometrics appointment and the interview, it may be many weeks before you receive a decision on your green card status. If you are approved, there will be additional steps to take. If you are denied, you can appeal the decision.

The green card application process can be time-consuming and frustrating, and it may be hard to navigate on your own. If you have questions about the best strategies for meeting the requirements, be sure to consult legal counsel. The highly experienced immigration attorneys at Cotney can review your situation and help you take the appropriate steps to ensure your success.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.