The steps to get a green card can be frustrating to understand if English is not your primary language. Even if English IS your primary language, understanding “government speak” or “legal speak” can still be overwhelming. That’s why today we’re looking at the steps to getting a green card in layman’s terms to give you a better understanding of what can be a very intimidating process.
What is a Green Card?
Before we get started it’s important to define what a green card is and what it does.
A green card is also called a “permanent resident card” and it grants official immigration status in the United States. This means that you can live and work on a permanent basis in the U.S.
The Steps to Get a Green Card
- Determine if you are eligible for a green card.
The first step you need to take in getting your green card is to see if you are eligible to be granted permanent residence. This means determining whether you fall into one of the categories below:- You can be sponsored by a family member in the United States
– You can be sponsored by a company in the United States
– You can be granted asylum or refugee status in the United States
– You can be granted a green card as a “special immigrant”
– You can be granted a green card as a human trafficking victim or crime victim
– You can be granted a green card as a victim of abuse
– You can be granted a green card through registry
– You can be granted a green card through one of the other categories of green card eligibility
- Filing of an immigrant Petition.
In order to file an application to register permanent residence or adjust status with the USCIS you must have someone file an immigrant petition for you (a sponsoring company or family member etc.) There are some instances where you can file your own immigrant petition too.
- Approval of the Immigrant Petition
The immigrant petition must be approved by the USCIS AND there must be a visa available in the category you are applying for in order to move on to the next step.
- File An Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the USCIS
Once you have determined that you are eligible to receive a green card and your immigrant petition has been approved, you will need to determine which application process to go through to get your green card.- If you are already living in or staying in the United States you will need to file for an adjustment of status with the USCIS. You can do that here.- If you are currently living or staying outside the United States you will need to file an application to register permanent residence through consular processing. You can do that here.
- Your application will be reviewed.
Once you have submitted your application for permanent residence your application will be reviewed by USCIS.
- You will receive an appointment for Biometrics
A biometrics appointment will be scheduled for you. You will receive notice of this appointment via the mail and it will confirm an appointment day and time as well as a location near to you where you should report for the appointment. At this appointment, you will have your fingerprints taken, have your photo taken, and provide your signature. The information that you provide during this appointment will be used to confirm your identity and to run a thorough background check on you to determine whether there are any external factors that could result in denial of residence.IF you live outside of the USA, your biometrics appointment will be handled differently. In this instance, you will have to submit official fingerprint cards and two passport-style photographs with your application.
- The USCIS will schedule an interview with you.
After reviewing your application and taking your biometrics the USCIS will schedule an interview with you. You will not necessarily receive approval or denial of permanent residence at the time of your interview. Not receiving a decision at the time of your interview does not necessarily reflect the decision that will be made, sometimes more information is needed to process an application and sometimes red tape and the process of things just requires a little more time.It is also important to note here that not every applicant will have to take part in an interview with USCIS and that even if you undergo an interview there is no time limit within which the USCIS has to respond to your application.
- Your green card will be issued.
Once you have completed your interview if you are approved, you will be issued your green card. This will not necessarily happen at the time of your interview.
Do You Need Assistance in Applying For Your Green Card?
We always recommend getting assistance from someone well versed in immigration law when you are filing your application for a green card. Making the slightest mistake on your application can result in denial or extend the application process unnecessarily. Having a professional look over and help you with your application can speed up the application process and ensure that you don’t receive unnecessary grief for mistakes made when filing your application.
If you live in California, specifically the Pasadena area, and need professional assistance applying for your green card, immigration lawyers Nelson and Associates are here to help! With twenty-seven years of immigration law experience and a history of standing up for immigrants who are unfairly persecuted, Nelson and Associates know all the ins and outs of immigration law and are ready to put their knowledge to work for you. Begin by giving us a call at 626-683-3451 and telling us how we can help you!