Green Card FAQ
How Do I Obtain a Green Card?
In order for to obtain a green card and obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status, it is first necessary to be admitted as an immigrant. There are several different immigration visa categories. The three most common categories of immigrant visas are:
- Immediate Family Member: U.S. citizens may petition their immediate family members for a green card. These can include spouses, unmarried children, and parents of the citizen, subject to certain limitations
- Marriage: Spouses of U.S. citizens can qualify for a green card based on “conditional permanent residence”. The conditional status can be converted into permanent resident status two years after it is granted
- Employment: Foreign nationals who are skilled in certain areas of work may qualify for this type of visa. This category is limited to applicants w ho meet very specific eligibility criteria. Only a certain number of these visas are issued every year
Therefore, in order to obtain a green card, you need to address three issues: first, a sponsor to petition you (i.e., family member, employer, etc.); secondly, you would need to file your application at a U.S. embassy or consular office; and lastly, you need to meet all the admissibility requirements.
What Is the Visa or Green Card Lottery?
Every year 50,000 permanent visas (green cards) are granted to immigrants who qualify under the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery program. To qualify, you must submit an application online. You must also be from a qualifying country. The list of qualifying nations differs every year according to the number of immigrants previously sent from that country. If you are selected in the lottery program, you must apply for LPR status immediately. Those not selected may apply again the next year.
Who Is Eligible for a Green Card?
Green card eligibility is subject to a three-step process:
- First, USCIS must approve your petition, which is typically filed by your immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, or by an employer
- A visa number must be immediately available to you. If you have received an immigrant visa, it means that an immigrant visa number has been assigned to you
- Once your immigrant visa number is available to you, you may apply for LPR status (if you are outside the U.S., you must complete this process at a U.S. consulate in your home country)
Also, it is best if you do not have any criminal charges on your record. These reflect poorly on your application and may weaken your chances of obtaining a green card.
What Documents Do I Need for the Immigration Interviews?
Document requirements can be subject to variation, but basically you will need the following:
- Your valid passport
- Photographs (be sure they match the green card specifications)- bring at least three copies
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or divorce certificates (if required)
- Proof of financial capability or support
- Results from medical examinations
Depending on your individual circumstances, immigration officials may request additional documentation from you. If you have any questions regarding which documents to provide, an immigration attorney can instruct you on how to proceed.
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Last Modified: 01-14-2014 10:39 AM PST
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