Green Cards

A green card allows foreign born applicants to receive permanent residence, which means you can permanently live and work in the U.S. However, this status can be lost if the green card holder abandons residence by staying outside the U.S. for too long or by behaving in activities subject to deportation.

Green Card Eligibility

To apply for a green card, applicants must be fall under one of the following eligibility categories:

  • Through a Relative
  • Through Employment
  • As a Special Immigrant
  • Through Refugee or Asylee Status
  • As a Victim of Human Trafficking, Crime, and or Abuse
Green Cards Through a Relative Immediate Relatives

Immediate relatives are not subject to quotas and are not part of the preference category. This means that generally, there is a visa immediately available to those that are immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen. An immediate relative is defined as:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • An unmarried child, who is less than 21 years of age of a US citizen
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen, where the U.S. citizen is older than 21 years of age

The process to petition for immediate relatives includes submission of:

  • Form I-485
  • Proof of Form I-130 approval (if not filing with the Form I-485)
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of government issued identity documents
  • Copy of passport page showing entry stamp
  • 2 passport style photos
Non-Immediate Relatives

Under family based immigration,if you are not an immediate relative, you fall under one of the preference categories and there may be wait times based on priority dates, category, and country of nationality. The family preference categories include:

  • F1 - The first preference (F1) category is for unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens. Sons and daughters refers to those 21 years of age and older.
  • F2A - The second preference (F2A) is for spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age of lawful permanent residents
  • F2B - The second preference (F2B) is for unmarried sons and daughters who are 21 years or older of permanent residents
  • F3 - The third preference (F3) is for married sons and daughter of US citizens
  • F4 - The fourth preference (F4) is for brothers and sisters of US citizens where the US citizen is 21 years or older

In addition to other requirements, petitioning for non-immediate relatives requires an immigrant visa to be immediately available to you at the time you file and at the time of adjudication of your adjustment of status application. Sometimes, the visa may be available when you filed but it may regress by the time of adjudication. The status of the visa availability is reflected in the Visa Bulletin under the Family Based category. This Bulletin is issued by the US Department of State.

Green Card Application Process

U.S. citizens can sponsor the following relatives for green cards:

  • Spouse
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Unmarried Adult Sons and Daughters
  • Married Sons and Daughters
  • Brothers and Sisters

The steps to apply for a green card will depend on each individual’s situation. The general process for most applicants is:

  • U.S. Citizen agrees to sponsor applicant and files petition I-130
  • After USCIS approves the petition & assuming there is a visa available in your category, the foreign born applicant can file for a Green card (with USCIS) or Visa application (with the U.S. Department of State)
  • Foreign born applicant goes to biometric appointment to provide fingerprints, photo, and a signature
  • Foreign born applicant attends interview
  • Foreign born applicant receives decision
Adjustment of Status

Eventually, green card holders can apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen by filing Adjustment of Status.

Green card holders can apply for adjustment of status if they:

  • Have never violated their immigration status
  • Are immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (parent, spouse, or child)
  • Qualify as an employment based immigrant
  • Are an asylee or refugee
Adjustment of Status for Asylees

Once you have been granted asylum status, you can apply to become a lawful permanent resident if you meet the eligibility requirements:

  • You must continue to meet the definition of a refugee, you have not firmly resettled in any foreign country and your asylum status must not have been terminated
  • You must have been physically present in the United States for at least one year after you have been granted asylum
  • You must be physically present in the United States at the time you file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or are eligible for a waiver to cure the grounds that make you inadmissible
  • You must be eligible for a favorable exercise of discretion

Schedule a consultation for more information about the green card application process and to learn how Attorney Habtermariam can address your immigration needs.