Title: The Lawful Process of Obtaining a Green Card in the United States
The pursuit of the coveted American Dream has continued to elicit global attention for centuries now. The essence of the dream lies in the promise of prosperity, economic opportunities, and the freedom to live life on one’s own terms. For many, the key to unlocking these opportunities is obtaining a Green Card – the permit that grants foreign nationals unrestricted living and working rights in the United States permanently. Each year, millions of aspiring immigrants apply for a Green Card, but only a limited number succeed due to stringent eligibility criteria and procedural limitations.
This article aims to demystify the lawful process of obtaining a Green Card in the U.S.
Understanding the green card:
The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the Green Card, officially known as the Permanent Resident Card. It certifies that the holder has been granted immigration benefits, including permissions to reside and take employment in the U.S. Although acquiring a Green Card is a step closer to U.S. citizenship, all Green Card holders are still technically considered as aliens.
Applying for a green card:
The procedure for obtaining a Green Card varies drastically depending on an individual’s specific circumstances and eligibility category. Broadly, there are four main categories through which one can apply for a Green Card: Family, Job offer/Employment, Refugee/Asylum status, and a Diversity Lottery Program (also known as the Green Card lottery).
1. Family: An individual can apply for a Green Card if they are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. This includes spouses, unmarried children (below 21 years), and parents (if the U.S. citizen is above 21 years).
2. Employment: Employment-based Green Cards require an offer of permanent employment in the U.S. Positions eligible for this are generally those for which there is a shortage of available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers.
3. Refugee/Asylum status: Those who are admitted to the U.S. as refugees or as qualifying asylum seekers might be eligible to apply for a Green Card.
4. Diversity Lottery Program: The Department of State runs the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program annually, where 50,000 Green Cards are available to randomly selected individuals who are natives of countries with low immigration rates to the U.S.
Filing the correct paperwork:
Once an individual determines their eligibility category, they need to file the appropriate forms, along with any necessary supporting documentation. The crucial forms for starting the Green Card application are Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; or DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application – these are used based on the category through which you are applying.
Physical and background checks:
After filing the initial paperwork, applicants must undergo a medical examination and a background check. The medical checks are performed by USCIS-approved doctors to confirm that the applicant is not inadmissible due to a health-related concern. Simultaneously, the background check ensures that the applicant has not been involved in any criminal activities.
Upon satisfying paperwork, medical, and background check requirements; the applicant is scheduled for an interview. All preliminary decision on eligibility and admissibility are verified in the interview. Answers to the questions during the interview must coincide with the information provided in the application forms.
Obtaining a green card is a lengthy and at times complicated process which varies depending on an individual’s specific situation. As such, it is always advisable to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney or expert to help navigate through the application process. And lastly, always remember to go through this process lawfully. Not only it is the right thing to do, but it also paves the way for a stress-free and enjoyable stay in the United States.