Green Card Application

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What is a Green Card?

A green card or permanent visa is a type of immigration document issued to persons who have been granted Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status.  A permanent resident is not a full U.S. citizen; however, they do have many rights, such as the right to work in the U.S., as well as the right to live permanently in the U.S. 

There are three basic avenues that an immigrant can obtain a green card:  through employment, marriage, or through a relative (family member).  There are various requirements and fees associated with each different category. 

Where Can I get a Green Card Application?

Green Card application forms are available for free online.  They may be downloaded through the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (USCIS).  The forms are always available for free online. Therefore, you should never pay anyone for a form.  Do not obtain green card applications from unauthorized persons or agencies.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Green Card Application?

As mentioned, getting the green card application form should not cost anything.  However, there is a filing fee associated with each type of green card form that you choose to submit.  Your application will not be considered unless you pay the filing fee.  You may submit the application at a U.S. embassy or consular office in your country of origin.   

In general, the main green card application document is Form I-485, “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”.  The filing fee for form I-485 is $985.  If biometric data is required, there is an $85 fee for biometrics, making the total filing fee $1,070. 

There are also filing fees associated with every green card-related form that needs to be submitted.  These may vary according to the green card category that you will be applying under.

Some of the other green-card based forms and their filing fees include:

You should be prepared for the basic fees as well as any extra additional costs that may be required.  An attorney can help you calculate how much you will need to spend on a green card application for you or for your loved one.

Are There Fee Waivers Available for Green Card Applications?

Yes- there are fee waiver forms that you can apply for- specifically, Form I-912, “Request for Fee Waiver”. 

However, not all applicants will qualify for a fee waiver.  To be eligible for a fee waiver, you need to satisfy a whole list of various requirements, such as having a household income below the poverty level, or if you are experiencing financial hardships.  You may wish to consult with a lawyer to determine if you are eligible for a fee waiver.

What Else is Involved in the Green Card Application Process?

A person seeking to obtain a green card needs to fulfill three basic requirements:  1) they must have a U.S. citizen petition them, such as an employer or relative; 2) they must file their green card application at a U.S. consular office or embassy; and 3) they must meet all the requirements for admissibility. 

After meeting these basic requirements, the applicant may then need to complete several follow-up steps, such as interviews, and/or submitting additional information.  For example, most green card applicants will be asked to provide supplemental documentation, such as a valid passport, photographs, birth certificates, marriage/divorce documents, proof of financial income, and medical exam reports.  

Do I Need a Lawyer for my Green Card Application?

Even though there are forms and guides available online, applying for a green card can still be confusing.  It can be very difficulty trying to sort out the different documents and papers that are required for an application.  A lawyer can help guide you through the process, making it much easier and clearer for you.  That way, you can avoid costly errors, and your application won’t miss any deadlines or any requirements.

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Last Modified: 08-17-2011 03:27 PM PDT

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