How to file a Green Card application and what is the process required to obtain a Green Card? The specific procedure in order to apply for a Green Card varies according to the specific Green Card category (through marriage, through family ties, through employment, etc.). Generally, the process involves the submission of at least 2 forms, that are processed by the USCIS. The processing time differs according to the type of application, as well as the specific circumstances. In this article, a US immigration attorney from our firm will provide important information on this legally complex process.
What Rights Does Green Card Grant?
A Green Card is the more commonly-known name for a permanent residency in the United States. This desirable status grants a variety of rights, many of which are similar to those of US citizens. Green Card holders may live and work in the US permanently. They are also able to apply for a Green Card for their relatives (including spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21). Furthermore, Green Card holders often may apply for American citizenship after an extended stay in the US.
According to US officials, it is estimated that around 13.9 million people who came to the US from all around the world are currently holding a Green Card. Many others are interested in becoming Green Card holders and enjoying the many benefits this luxurious status provides. If you are one of them, you might wonder about the process behind a Green Card application and how to apply for a Green Card for you or your relatives.
It is worth bearing in mind that there is more than one way to obtain a Green Card, and accordingly, there are different types of application procedures. Thus, it is highly recommended to consult with a US immigration attorney, in order to understand what is the ultimate application track in individual cases. Below we will provide details about the Green Card eligibility requirements, and explain the different stages that the application process usually includes.
Who is Eligible to Apply for Green Card?
There are various categories through which one may be eligible for a Green Card. One primary category of eligibility is Green Card through marriage (including same-sex marriage). Spouses of US citizens may apply for Green Cards, based on holding a valid marriage certificate that was issued in the US or abroad. It should be emphasized that proof of marriage is merely the basic requirement, and applicants will be required to meet further eligibility criteria. This includes proving the sincerity of the marital relationship, the affinity of the applicants to the United States and the couple’s financial stability.
Another common category is Green Card through employment in the US, which might be relevant to many migrant workers and those interested in living and working in the US. The immigration law in the United States sets up preference groups of foreigners who may be eligible to apply for a Green Card based on their qualifications, professional experience, etc. Apart from employees, foreign investors who wish to make business investments of particularly high amounts in the United States may also apply for a Green Card under certain circumstances.
Another category is Green Card through family ties with a US citizen. This category is relevant for foreigners whose parent, child above the age of 21, brother or sister is a US citizen, and may serve as their sponsor in the US. Green Card applications through this track are approved based on yearly quotas set by the US authorities. As a result, the application process under this category may take longer than in other categories.
One additional category is the Diversity Visa (DV), which is also known as Green Card Lottery. Under this category, around 50,000 Green Cards are granted each year, mainly to applicants who were born in countries with low US immigration rates. It should be noted that the number of those applying for a US Green Card under this category is very high – approximately, 12 million people. In addition, there are many cases of fraud with regard to this program. These factors make this track rather speculative and require an extra level of caution when participating in a Green Card Lottery.
How to Apply for Green Card?
A Green Card application for those who meet the eligibility criteria usually requires submitting an application form and an immigrant petition. There are specific forms for each type of Green Card category. In many cases, the Green Card application forms must be submitted by another person. This applies, for instance, in the case of Green Card through marriage and Green Card through family ties. However, in some cases, such as business investment-based applications, the forms may be submitted by the applicants themselves.
It should also be highlighted that in many Green Card procedures, the application must be fulfilled when the applicants are present in the US. Exiting the US during the process may be risky for the applicants, and result in a denial of their application. Thus, it is recommended to get the assistance of an attorney specializing in US immigration, in order to avoid such undesired consequences.
What are the Stages of the Green Card Application Process?
After submitting the application, it will be processed and handled by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Usually, the immigrant petition is submitted and be processed first, and only upon its approval the Green Card application is submitted. The examination procedure will include an interview of the applicant, as well as a biometrics appointment, in which the applicant has to provide fingerprints, a signature and photos. Additional stages and requirements may apply, depending on the specific type of application. For instance, Green Card applications through employment usually also involve a petition for labor certification (PERM).
How Long Does the Application Process Take?
The answer to this question depends on the category of the Green Card application, as well as the individual circumstances of each case. It should be noted that the average processing time of each category may vary significantly. For instance, the processing time of an application that is based on family ties with a US citizen may take between 7 to 15 years on average, whereas Green Card applications based on marriage may take around 2 years on average.
Many wonder whether there are ways to speed up the process. While it is possible to file a petition to expedite the examination of the application, this possibility is usually reserved for cases with exceptional circumstances. In order to get an estimation of the processing time and to understand whether it could be possible to file a petition for an expedition, it is recommended to consult with an attorney specializing in immigration law to the United States.
As shown above, the process involved in a Green Card application is very challenging legally, and can often be lengthy and complex. If you have more questions or require legal assistance through the process, our US immigration experts will be more than happy to help. Our legal firm specializes in providing representation and legal advise in various US immigration applications, including applications for Green Cards, work permit, US citizenship, etc. You can contact us here or via phone at +972 3-372-4722.