Obtaining a green card is an important step towards becoming a U.S. citizen. A green card indicates that an individual is a Lawful Permanent Resident, and can live and work in the U.S.

Instructions for submitting a green card application are provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the process can sometimes be complicated. Below is a handful of things to keep in mind when going through the process.

What to Do When Applying for a Green Card:

  • Follow instructions on the USCIS forms completely and exactly. Failure to fill out all the information requested on the forms could result in a denied application or costly delays in processing.
  • Submit any and all additional documents that are required along with the forms. USCIS will generally not process applications if documents are missing.
  • Ask for an interpreter if one is needed. Many immigration offices provide interpreters, but, just to be safe, bring one if one will be needed.
  • Follow instructions regarding photograph requirements. Applications could be delayed they do not meet these specifications.
  • Ask questions.
  • Hire an attorney. This is essential to do if an applicant:
  • Disclose to the attorney any information about:
    • Previous misrepresentations made on a green card application. Failing to do so may result in being accused of green card fraud.
    • Any other misrepresentations such as those regarding housing or employment.

What Not to Do When Applying for a Green Card:

  • Break the law. This is the surest way to have an application denied. Moreover, some crimes are grounds for deportation.
  • Leave the U.S. Limiting travel outside the U.S. to periods of less than one year.
  • Falsify information on forms or during communications to immigration officers
  • Leave forms blank. Best practice is to state “N/A” or not applicable when necessary, and supply all information as completely as possible
  • Charge people for legal advice or engage in any other activities that require a license. It is illegal to practice certain professions without a valid license. 

Most Importantly: Hire a Lawyer

To reiterate, the most important thing to consider is hiring an immigration lawyer. Your attorney can help you prepare the necessary documents and review them before they are filed.