How Do I Qualify for a Green Card?

New York, NY- A green card not only gives an immigrant permanent residence and the right to work legally in the United States and paves the way for naturalization if that is your end goal. A green card, which is also known as permanent residency, allows and immigrant to legally live in the U.S. without fear of deportation

Before a person can obtain a green card they must meet specific criteria, which are outlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

An immigrant can apply for a green card if they meet the following criteria:

  • You are a direct relative of a U.S. citizen who includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21 and parents of U.S. citizens.
  • You fit into a preferential category which includes children of U.S. citizens over the age of 21, married children of any age and brothers or sisters over the age of 21.
  • You it into a special category including battered spouse or child (VAWA), a fiancé of a non-immigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen.

Green cards are also awarded on the basis of a person’s employment. Those categories include people allowed entry for investing in the U.S., those who are hired by a company to work in the states, or individuals with exceptional abilities or have skills such as translator.

There are other categories you may fit into which make you eligible for a green card such as refugee or asylum status. You can get a more comprehensive list from the USCIS website.

If you fit into the any above categories of others outlined by the USCIS, you can apply for green card while you are living in the U.S. after obtaining legal entry or apply through a consulate or prior to entering the country.

While you can initiate the green card process on you own, it is best to get the help of an immigration attorney. After finding the specific green card category you fit into, you can file for permanent status, but you will also need to have someone file a petition on your behalf. If you are seeking a green card based on your family, they will have to file the petition, the same applicable for employment based green cards.

If you are currently living in the U.S. and want to work on attaining a green card, you must apply for an adjustment of status. This allows the immigrant to stay in the country while they wait for their green card application to be processed.

If you have not yet entered the country you must wait until visas in your specific category are available; this can sometimes take a year or two. Once you have been awarded a visa, you can legally enter the country and then apply for an adjustment of status.

There are several categories of non-immigrant visas that won’t allow you to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. If it is your goal to live in work in the U.S. permanently, its critical to speak with an immigration attorney to tell you which visas you should apply for and whether you are admissible.