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Permanent Visa or Green Cards

A permanent visa, commonly referred to as a "green card," is an immigration document that allows a person to live in the United States.

What Agency Grants Green Cards?

Before September 2002, the agency that was charged with overseeing immigration issues was the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In September 2002, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, transferring the powers of the INS to the Department of Homeland Security. The immigration service functions of the INS are now placed under the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS).

Types of Green Card Categories

Depending on your connection to the United States, you may qualify for a different green card category. The United States puts a limit, or quota, on the amount of green cards issued for people who fall into each green card category: 

Beware - See your immigration attorney before attempting to get a green card through these methods. You may bring your illegal residence in the United States to the attention of the BCIS and be forced into deportation proceedings instead of getting a green card.

The Green Card Application Process

Getting your application for a green card processed and approved by the BCIS has many steps: 

Should I See an Immigration Attorney when I Apply for a Green Card?

The BCIS has many forms and procedural requirements for those who wish to apply for a green card. An immigration attorney is familiar with all these procedures and will help your application process move smoothly. An immigration attorney can also help you determine whether you would be eligible for a green card under a preference category or as an immediate family member.

Vea esta página en español: Visas Permanentes o Green Cards o visita para más información legal.

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Last Modified: 08-20-2017 10:30 PM PDT

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