If you have an American dream, you must have heard about the green card. It’s the document that acts as your PR visa in the USA. The green card is a non-US citizen’s proof of being a permanent resident in America.
The green card is a dream achievement for many. That’s because it allows them to live and work anywhere in the United States, lawfully. Moreover, it qualifies them for U.S. citizenship after 3 or 5 years.
The U.S. government issues over a million green cards annually. The priority of the issue is given to the family members of US citizens or green cardholders. Then comes the workers from other countries looking for jobs in the United States.
The green card comes in many categories. These may be:
Family-based green card
This type of green card applies to close relatives of U.S. citizens and current green cardholders. The family members eligible for applying for this type of green card include:
Spouses and children of those siblings, spouses, and adult children listed above are also eligible. Widows/widowers who were spouses to a US citizen at the time the citizen died are also eligible for this green card.
Among those who don’t qualify for this green card are aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents. They may apply for a green card if they have a close relative as listed above.
Employment-based green card
This green card applies to you if you are a worker in the USA. In some cases, even your spouses and children may qualify. The categories under this type are:
- Priority workers (EB-1) – This includes those in arts, sciences, education, business, and athletics. They must have achievements, recognized through extensive documentation. It also includes outstanding professors & researchers and multinational managers & executives.
- Professionals with advanced degrees & exceptional abilities (EB-2) – This includes those requiring master’s or bachelor’s degrees (with a minimum of 5 years of relevant experience). It also includes workers in positions of national interest or in arts, science or business with exceptional abilities.
- Physicians (EB-2 with a special waiver) – This includes physicians who agree to work full-time in underserved areas for a specific period.
- Skilled, unskilled, and professional workers (EB-3) – This includes skilled workers in positions requiring a minimum of 2 years’ training or experience. It should also not be temporary or seasonal. It also needs those in positions requiring at least a bachelor’s degree from a US university or college. An equivalent of this degree from a non-U.S. school is also allowed.
- Special workers (EB-4) – This includes professionals from media, religious workers & ministers and certain other employees, retirees and their family members. Afghanistan and Iraq nationals who have served the US government in certain capacities.
- Investors (EB-5) – This includes non-US nationals who have invested or are investing at least $1 million in a new US business. The business must create full-time positions for at least 10 workers.
Humanitarian Green Card
This type applies to you if you are:
- Refugee and asylee
- Human-trafficking victim
- Crime victim
- Abuse victim
Diversity Lottery Green Card
This green card applies to you if you have won selection in the annual green card lottery. The lottery is also called the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.
Longtime-Resident Green Card
This green card applies to you if you have physically lived in the United States, lawfully or unlawfully, since January 1, 1972. In this case, you are essentially undocumented. You can apply for a green card through a special process called ‘registry’.
How to apply for the green card
The application process for a green card should be preceded by 2 basic considerations:
Are you eligible to apply?
There are many ways to apply for a green card with different eligibility requirements. These vary depending on the category of immigrants you come under. The categories are:
- Green card via family
- Green card as a special immigrant
- Green card via employment
- Green card via refugee or asylee status
- Green card for victims of abuse
- Green card for victims of crime and human trafficking
- Green card via the registry
- Green card via other categories
You can apply for a green card by filing two forms:
- A petition for immigration
- A green card application (Form I-485)
The petition is usually filed by the one who represents or sponsors you in the US. The types of petitions include:
- Form I-140 – immigrant petition for an alien worker
- Form I-589 – application for asylum and for withholding of removal
- Form I-130 – petition for alien relative
- Form I-730 – refugee/asylee relative petition
- Form I-929 – petition for qualifying family member of a U-1 nonimmigrant
- Form I-360 – petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or special immigrant
- Form I-918 – petition of U Non-immigrant status
- Form I-526 – an immigrant petition by the alien entrepreneur
Are you inside or outside the USA?
If eligible to apply for a Green Card, you have 2 processes to use – adjustment of status or consular processing.
If inside the USA
In this case, you will use the process of adjustment of status with USCIS. In it:
- Check if you already have an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa is available. If yes, file Form I-485. Also, file an application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS.
- You may not have an approved immigrant petition. Then, you should check if you can file the petition and Form I‑485 together simultaneously. This is called concurrent filing.
If outside the USA
In this case, you will use consular processing with the US Department of State.
Your individual situation will decide the steps you must take to apply for a Green Card. However, here is the general application process that most applicants will go through:
- Someone in the US must usually file an immigrant petition for you. This person is called a sponsor or petitioner for you. You could file for yourself in certain cases.
- USCIS approves the immigrant petition first with a visa available in your category. Then you may use one of the following options:
- File a green card application with USCIS
- File a visa application with the US Department of State
- You go to a biometrics appointment. There you provide fingerprints, photos, and a signature
- You go to an interview
- You receive a decision on your application
You can get more information on the green card and its process from immigration experts like us.
If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to the USA, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.
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