Green Card Application Process

Steps to Be Followed for a Green Card Application Process

The green card application process can seem to be less daunting if one has the know-how about the various steps involved. This article will take a look at the various steps involved while applying for a green card.
OpinionFront Staff
A green card is a permanent resident card that grants a foreigner all the residential rights of United States of America. It is a document which is used as a proof that the individual is a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States of America. It ensures that the person gets all the benefits that other citizens of United States are entitled to except the right to vote. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration is responsible for issuing the green card. There are certain requirements that an individual needs to fulfill before applying for a green card.

Ways to Acquire Green Card

There are various ways in which you can apply for a green card. The main categories are through family, job, marriage, asylum and lottery. While applying for the green card, one should check which mode of application would be the most relevant. Let us take a look at each of these methods one by one.

Employment
This is one of the most common ways of applying for a green card. The employer sponsors the employee's green card. The employment skills should fall in the categories EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4 and EB5. Most of the people who fall in these categories are people with extraordinary skills in science, arts, education, business, athletics etc. The application of green card through employer is a four-step process which includes a labor certification, a petition for immigration, consular processing and finally, the approval stage.

Family
Family members can sponsor their relatives for lawful permanent residence in the United States. One can sponsor spouse, parents, children and siblings. Your relative in the United States needs to fill in the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative' for you. Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen is someone who is a child (unmarried and less than 21 years of age) or the spouse or the parent of a U.S. citizen. The family member of a U.S citizen in a preference category is someone who is an unmarried son or daughter (21 years or older), a married son or daughter and also the sibling of the U.S citizen.

Marriage
Getting a green card through marriage is one of the easiest way to permanent residence in U.S. One of the reasons for this is that if an American citizen marries a foreigner, then they can petition for them and there is no limit to the number of approvals.

Asylum
People entering United States as a refugee have to apply for permanent residence one year after the date of their entry. Asylees also need to apply for permanent residency one year after they have been granted the asylum status. One needs to meet certain criteria as set up USCIS, like they should be present in the United States for at least one year and their refugee status should be intact.

Lottery
A green card through lottery? Sounds too fictitious to be true! But the fact is that every year the US government awards 50,000 green cards to applicants through a computer generated list. The application process is easy as most of the people easily satisfy the eligibility criteria. There is no fee for participating in the lottery and if you get selected, you just need to pay the immigrant visa charges.

Green Card Application

There are some specific forms that one needs to fill in according to the category that you have applied under. Depending on the category that you have chosen, you have to submit a petition sponsoring the applicant.
  • Family sponsored - Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130)
  • Employment based - Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140)
  • Special immigrants - Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) and Special Immigrant (Form I-360)
Form I-485 is filled to acquire register permanent residence or Adjust status. An applicant must have a visa before applying for permanent residence.

Biometrics
After you have filled in all the necessary forms, the applicant would need to visit an application support center wherein his personal details like fingerprints, signature and photographs would be taken. Do carry all the essential documents while appearing for the biometrics screening so that you do not need to repeatedly visit the center.

Interview
The final requirement to get a green card is to appear for the USICS interview. In this interview, you will be asked several details like your personal and family background. After the 9/11 attacks, the process of interviewing the applicants has become more strict and if the officials are not convinced, they can even reject the application. The officials have to also look at an applicant from an economic prospective as a lot of Americans are unemployed and dependent on government aids. So, it becomes important that the immigrants are an asset and not a liability.

If everything works smoothly, then it may take around 3 to 6 months to get a green card but if there are certain irregularities in the documents or if the forms have not been filled correctly, then it may take longer as you would have to go through the green card application process all over again. So, make sure that you carefully fill in all the required details in order to realize your dream of being a green card holder.