Green Card (Permanent Resident Card)
What is a Green Card and How do I Obtain It?
The Green Card is the permit that allows a foreign citizen to live and work in the United States permanently. The official name of it is the Permanent Resident Card, and it can be obtained in several ways.
One of the most straightforward ways to obtain it is through marriage to a U.S. citizen. The reason the marriage route is considered to be relatively easy is that the only thing an applicant needs is to prove that the marriage is “bona fide” — that is, real. A Green Card holder through marriage can apply for citizenship 3 years after obtaining it. There are certain eligibility requirements to be satisfied, though. Some of these requirements include residence in the United States and demonstration of good moral character. I assist my clients with each stage of this process through the final step of obtaining citizenship.
Green Card types are divided into the following general categories:
- Green Card Through Family
- Green Card Through Employment
- Green Card Through Asylum
- Additional Types of a Green Card
The following family members of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident fall under the Green Card Through Family category:
- Immediate family members of a U.S. citizen, which are a spouse, unmarried children under 21 and parents. If a U.S. citizen is petitioning for his or her parents, the petitioner must be at least 21 years old
- Family members of a U.S. citizen, which fall under the following preference category: unmarried children who reached age of 21, married children of any age and a sponsoring U.S. citizen’s siblings
- A permanent resident’s family member, such as a spouse and unmarried children.
This category includes the following aliens:
- People who are eligible for a Green Card through a job offer. Most of these types of Green Card applications require a labor certification and a potential employee who is ready and willing to hire and petition for the applicant.
- Those, eligible for a Green Card through investment, such as entrepreneurs who invest in commercial enterprises that create jobs in the U.S.
- People of Extraordinary Ability and those who are eligible for a Green Card under National Interest Waiver. This category of aliens can apply for a permanent residence card through self-petitioning without having a third-party petitioner and a job offer.
- Special category Green Card applicants such as Afghan/Iraqi translators, broadcasters, employees of international organizations, Iraqis and Afghans who assisted the U.S. government, nonimmigrant visa holders under NATO-6, employees of Panama Canal, physicians under National Interest Waiver, religious workers Informants (S nonimmigrant visa holder),
A person (Asylee) who has been granted an asylum status in the United States, including his or her spouse and children, can apply for a Green Card 1 year after obtaining the asylum status.
Additional Types of the Permanent Resident Card
There are also other types of a Green Card which can be obtained through the following program:
- Diversity Visa Program (Green Card Lottery)
- Fiancé(e) visa
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status – foreign children in the U.S. who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected
- Battered Spouse or Child (VAWA)
- Person born to a foreign diplomat in the U.S.
- Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
- V nonimmigrant visa for spouses and children of permanent residents
- Member of armed forces
- Amerasian Child of a U.S. Citizen – individuals who were fathered by a U.S. citizen and born in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, or Thailand between January 1, 1951 and October 21, 1982
- American Indian Born in Canada
- Cuban native or citizen
- Haitian refugee
- Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act – individuals from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos who were admitted or paroled into the United States prior to October 1, 1997
- Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) – individuals from Guatemala, El Salvador, and the former Soviet
- Registry (People who have been in the United States since January 1, 1972, irrespective of their immigration status)
- Victim of Trafficking (T Nonimmigrant visa holder)
Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of Status refers to the process of obtaining a Green Card for those who are already physically present on the territory of the United States. When an intended immigrant plans to apply for a Green Card and is outside the U.S., he or she is required to apply to a U.S. consulate in his or her country for a visa. First, the person is issued an immigrant visa and upon arriving in the U.S., he or she will receive a Green Card.
In the case of Adjustment of Status, obtaining a Green Card is much easier and time-saving. A person files an immigration petition and an application for Adjustment of Status with USCIS without leaving the U.S. While the application is being processed, he or she can obtain work authorization and in some cases a permit to travel outside the country.
Although Adjustment of Status is a very convenient way to obtain a Green Card compared to others, not everyone who is eligible for a Green Card can adjust his or her status. If a person entered the territory of the U.S. illegally, he or she cannot adjust status. In technical terms, this person is considered to have been admitted without inspection; therefore, immigration regulations require such person to leave the country and go through the immigration process at a U.S. consular service abroad. There are some exceptions to this rule, though, such as seeking asylum in the U.S. If a person fears persecution in his or her country and comes to the U.S. without inspection, such person is still eligible for adjustment of status, provided other requirements are met.
Usually, if a person exceeded an authorized period of stay for more than 180 days or was involved in illegal employment in the U.S., he or she cannot adjust status, but again there are some exceptions. One of the exceptions applies to an intended immigrant whose immediate relative is a U.S. citizen. In such a case, illegal employment and long presence in the country will not render the applicant ineligible to adjust his or her status.
Another bar to Adjustment of Status is committing a crime of moral turpitude. Such crimes also are also a bar to getting a visa or obtaining a Green Card through consular processing. There is no pre-defined definition of what crimes are considered to be crimes of moral turpitude, but usually these crimes are those that involve lying or violence. If a person committed a crime of moral turpitude, the bar to adjust status can be lifted only by obtaining a waiver, which is quite a complicated process. Therefore, it is advisable to hire a knowledgeable immigration attorney in order to maximize the chances of obtaining a favorable decision.
Should you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact me by submitting the form or by calling me at (248) 630-3239. I accept clients from across the U.S. and around the world. My law office is conveniently located in Troy, Michigan for in-person meetings. For phone consultation, you can reach me from any part of the United States or abroad.