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Do I Need a Lawyer to Obtain a Green Card?

“Green card” is the informal name for the identification card that verifies the permanent resident status of an immigrant in the United States. A green card serves as proof that a lawful permanent resident has officially been granted the benefits of immigration. There are several ways that someone can obtain a green card. One of the most common ways to obtain a green card is being sponsored by family members living in the United States.

Benefits include:

A green card is also an important milestone on the path to citizenship. Indeed, a lawful permanent resident may apply for citizenship after 5 years.

How Do I Get a Green Card?

A green card holder would be categorized as a U.S resident and can lawfully enter, exit, work, and reside in the U.S for the period of time they have the green card. Eventually, the green card holder can apply for U.S citizenship and become a permanent U.S citizen. One can get lawful permanent resident status and their green card several ways. Generally, the applicant must meet each of the following:

1) Be eligible under one of the immigrant categories – This is a preference-based system, and aside from immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (and a few other narrow exceptions), Congress has limited the number of available green cards to 675,000 each year. Eligible categories include:

2) Complete the qualifying immigrant petition – Immigrants in most categories will need one of the following immigrant petitions:

Occasionally, an immigrant petition can be filed at the same time as the adjustment application (Form I-485).

3) Have A Visa Available – A visa is always available for immediate family members of United States citizens. Otherwise, work based or other family based visas will be available based on the following:

4) Prove admissibility to the United States – Every applicant must prove they are admissible or eligible for admission into the United States. There are several grounds of inadmissibility, ranging from health-related issues to criminal pasts, as well as many other security-related considerations the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services organization will determine.

What Are the Differences between U.S Citizenship and a Green Card?

A green card is the procedure that most people have to go through before applying to become a U.S. citizen. This immigration process usually takes years. Other ways a person can become a U.S. citizen include being born in the United State or birth to U.S citizens.

Are There Alternatives to Getting a Green Card?

One common alternative is the Green Card Diversity Lottery. The Diversity Immigrant visa program makes 55,000 lawful permanent resident visas available each year to countries that have been deemed to have low United States immigration rates. An application (Form DV-2010) must be submitted, and the chances of winning the green card lottery are incredibly low. For example, in 2008, there were over 13 million applications for the 55,000 available visas.

Are There Any Restrictions Once I Get a Green Card?

Once you have obtained a green card, there are certain rules you must follow in order to keep your green card. First, you must follow the law and must not violate any criminal or immigration laws. Any kind of crime can be a factor in losing your green card. If you are arrested or convicted of a crime while you have a green card, be sure to contact a immigration lawyer and find out how you can avoid removal or deportation.

Should I Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

Green card applications are incredibly complicated. Hiring an immigration lawyer is the best way to quickly navigate the process if you or a loved one needs assistance. An attorney can help meet all the requirements and ensure that you do not experience any undue delays. Hiring a lawyer to represent you is always a smart safeguard in the event you have to attend an immigration hearing or meeting.

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Last Modified: 08-20-2017 09:59 PM PDT

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