green card

In this blog post, Shantanu Pandey, from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Punjab, describes the procedure for applying for a Green Card in the USA. 

Having access to a green card of a particular country is considered to be very beneficial for a citizen of a particular country. As an individual, the citizen of a given country is provided with various rights by virtue of being a permanent citizen of a country. This article mainly deals with different ways through which one can get a green card and the procedure to obtain it.

Green Card through family

Most of the times, people become eligible for a green card because of a family member who is currently residing in the United States. There are various ways to obtain a green card through the family.

 

Green card to an immediate relative of a person residing in the United States

Ideally, an immediate relative of a US citizen can get a green card easily. Immediate relatives include the spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21, parent if the US citizen is over the age of 21. One benefit which is available to the immediate relative of an already US citizen is that the immediate family member does not have to stand in the line of visa which makes the procedure of obtaining a green card simple and easy.

Procedure to apply for a green card when you are inside the United States

In case the immediate relative of the US citizen resides inside the United States, then the green card can be obtained by following the illustrated procedure:

The first step an immediate relative can follow to get a green card is that he must file the I-485 form to get his application registered for permanent residence.One can do this at the same time when the principal citizen has filed an I-30 application for the alien relative to get the status of a permanent resident.

Another method of applying for a green card is by following a two-way process –

  • One can file an I-485 application any time after the principal resident has filed an I-30 petition for the alien relative provided, it has not been rejected.
  • Once the I-30 application of the applicant has been approved, the applicant will receive a notice of issue (Form I-797) stating that your I30 application has been approved followed by which one can file an I-485 petition, one has to show the form I-797 indicating that the I-30 application of the applicant has been approved.

Getting a green card outside the United States

In case, one is staying outside the United States and wishes to obtain a green card; one can get a green card through consular processing. The consular processing begins when the United Citizenship Immigration Services works with the department of state to issue a visa after the I-30 application of the applicant is approved. One can travel to the United States when the I-30 application is approved and will become eligible for a green card once the name of the applicant is registered at the US port.

Green card for a family member of a US citizen

The US citizen is eligible to sponsor a green card of a family member under the ambit of a family preference category. These include unmarried sons and daughters under 21 years of age, brothers and sisters, married children of any age. However, under this category of applicants, there is a limitation being laid down in consideration to the number of relatives who can enter the United States after having a green card.

Procedure to apply for a green card when you are in the United States

To obtain a green card while in the United States, the family member can do so by giving consideration to the following process:

  • Firstly, the principal US citizen must file an I30 application on behalf of the applicant and the same must be approved, once the application is approved, one must then wait for the priority date in the immigrant visa to become current.
  • Once the priority date becomes current, one must file an I-485 Applcation to Register for Permanent or adjustment of status.It is a process through which one can acquire a permanent status.

 

Procedure for Adjustment of Status

In case one wants to change the status of residence then, one must follow this procedure –

  • Determine the basis of your immigration: The first step one must take into consideration is that one must decide the purpose of his immigration, i.e., whether the immigration is family based, employment based, refugee based or first category immigrants. Documents vary in each case. Therefore, one must determine the basis of immigration at the first stage.
  • Filing a petition: The next step is to file a petition. Once you have decided the category of your visa, you must file an appropriate petition depending on the purpose of your immigration.
  • Check visa availability: After filling up the petition, check if the visa is available at present in the category one has applied for of the immigrant visa. Often the status of the applicant who has applied for a green card is not stated as the priority date is not current. However, one must take into consideration the fact whether the visa is available or not in the category under which one has applied.
  • File I-485, Application to Register permanent residence or adjustment status: Applying for a permanent residence is an important task, which has to be taken into consideration by the green card applicant. One must apply at an appropriate time for the application for permanent residency.
  • Go to your application support centre: Once the applicant has filled the application, one would be notified to appear at the application support centre and there, the fingerprints of the applicant would be taken. This will act as a security to speed up the process of the issuance of your green card and to permit working in the United States.
  • Go for Interview: Once the applicant has visited the application support centre , one must appear for the interview. At the time of your interview, you and the principal visa applicant who had filed an I-30 petition on your behalf must bring the original copies of all the documents at the time of the interview.
  • Final decision in the mail: Once the interview of the applicant has been conducted, one will then be notified of the permanent status of the green card status of the applicant. Considering the present decision, The United Citizenship and Immigration Authority would find the status of the green card of the applicant with the State authority.

 

Getting a green card outside the United States

Even if one is outside the United States, one can still get a green card through the counselling process. This process starts when the USCIS works with the Department of the United States to issue a visa when the I30 petition is approved. Once the applicant has been granted the visa, one can travel to the United States. However, one will become a permanent resident only when the name of the applicant is registered at the foreign port.

Green Card Applicants of special category

  • Battered Spouse or Child
  • Non-immigrant
  • Person born to a foreign diplomat
  • Widower

A battered spouse, child, a parent may file a petition for themselves without the knowledge of the first resident under the Immigration and Nationality Act which allows them to file a petition without the awareness of the abuser.

Eligibility for the Spouse or Child

  • Qualifying spousal relationship:
    • One is married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or
    • Your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within two years before filing your petition, or
    • Your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the two years before filing your petition due to an incident of domestic violence, or
    • You believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.
    • You have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.

Eligibility for a child

Any unmarried child of the permanent US citizen can file a petition for himself if he has been subjected to the following by the permanent US citizen

  • He is the child of the US citizen
  • The permanent US citizen had lost their citizenship on the ground of domestic violence
  • The child had lived with his abusive parent
  • You are a person of a good moral character ( a child less than 14 years of age is considered to be of good moral character)

For information regarding parents visit –www.uscis.gov.in

Procedure for filing a petition

If any one of the above wants to file a petition then the following procedure must be adopted by them

Firstly, one must complete the I-360 form and furnish all the supporting documents. Once the documentation is complete, you must then visit the Vermont Service Centre.

Procedure to file a petition if one is living abroad at the time of filing a complaint

An I-360 petition can be filed if the abuser comes under any one of the following categories:

  • Abuser is a member of the US government
  • Abuser is a member of uniform services of the United States
  • Applicant was subjected to extreme cruelty in the United States

In case the applicant applying for the green card is filing a petition for himself, or their child and the applicant furnishes the filing requirements, in that case, a notice would be served to the applicant where 150 days would be given to present before a government agency which protects the victims of domestic violence from further abuse.

In case the I-360 petition of a widow or widower is approved, and the applicant does not have an immigration status in the United States then, such an applicant would be placed under deferred action by the USCIS.

In case one wants to apply for a job in the United States then, one must file an I-765 Employment Authorisation with the Vermont Service centre.

Procedure to apply for green card as K Non- immigrant resident

This kind of green card is obtained by the fiancée and their minor children accompanying them to stay in the United States with their intended spouse.

The fiancé of the US citizen files an I-29 petition for their fiancée. Then, in the year 2000, the Life Act was brought into the picture to speed up the process of the non-immigrant visa. All the applicants holding a K visa are required to file an I-485 petition and register for permanent residence.

Time limit for a K1 visa holder to file a petition

In case you are a K1 visa holder, you need to marry your fiancé within 90 days of your stay in the United States. In case you want a green card, then you must file an I-485 petition within this period . Failing to obtain this you could be deported from the United States.

Additional Documents along with an I-485 petition

  • Two passport-style photos
  • Form G-325A, Biographic Information
  • Copy of your government issued photo identification
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of passport page with non-immigrant visa
  • Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp
  • Form I-94, Admission/Departure Record
  • Evidence of your marriage to the U.S. citizen within 90 days (for K-1s)
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, if applicable
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • Copy of approved Form I-130 or Form I-797, Notice of Action, if Form I-130 is pending (if K-3 or K-4)
  • Copies of any other approved application or waiver you have had about your application for K status (Approved Form I-129F, Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Excludability, )
  • Applicable filing fees

Reference- www.usics.gov

In the case of a widow or widower of the US citizen, you can apply for green card if you had married the US citizen at the time of the death of the US citizen provided, you have married the US citizen in good faith and not solely for the purpose of immigration.

Various other ways to obtain Green Card

  • Green card through a job offer
  • Green card through investment
  • Green Card through self-petition
  • Green Card through special categories of jobs

 

Procedure to obtain Green card through a job offer

In this case, the applicant who wants to obtain green card must have a permanent opportunity for employment in the United States. Another method of applying for permanent residence in the United States is by a citizen of the United States sponsoring or filing a petition on behalf of the applicant.

Mostly all the employers file an I -40 petition on behalf of the employee in case, they are found eligible for a permanent job in the United States.

A permanent residence in the United States can be obtained even if one is outside the United States at the time of filing a petition. A consular process would be an appropriate method to file a petition in this case. A consular process begins when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services works with the department of United States after the approval of the I-40 petition of the applicant who had applied for the green card.

On the other hand, one can obtain the status of a permanent resident while being in the United States while filing an I-485 form for adjustment of permanent status. Once the I-40 petition of the applicant has gained approval, one can file the I-485 form to obtain a green card for establishing the status of a permanent resident in the United States.

Evidence for form I-485 to be fulfilled by the applicant

  • Proof of inspection, admission or parole into the United States (Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record)
  • If you have already been approved for an immigrant petition, submit a copy of the approval notice sent to you by the USCIS
  • Job offer letter from your employer
  • Two color photos which were taken within 30 days
  • Form G-325A, Biographic Data Sheet (for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79)
  • Form I-693, Medical Examination (not required if you are applying based on continuous residence since before 1972, or if you have had a medical exam based on a fiancé visa)
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support (completed by the sponsor)
    • This requirement will not apply to you if you are adjusting based on employment petition unless you or a relative own a percentage of the employer company
  • Any other evidence establishing eligibility

Procedure to apply for green card through investment

The entrepreneurs, their spouses and children under the age of 21, who have applied for a permanent work area and have invested up to $1,000,000 or at least $500,000 in the field of employment in which they are permitted to work, can obtain a green card for being a permanent citizen of the United States. One of the primary requirements for this category is one must have an I-526 form to obtain a green card for permanent residence. One can get a green card even if one is outside the United States. This can be done through the consular process. The consular process begins once the I-40 petition is approved. Hence, the United States Citizenship immigration service works with the department of state to issue a visa to the applicant who has applied for a green card.

Another method through which one can get a green card while being in the United States is when the I-526 form is approved. After the approval of the I -526 form of the green card applicant, one can file a petition called I-485 for the adjustment of status of the permanent resident. Once your name has been included at the foreign port, you are eligible for a green card in the United States.

Supporting evidence for a form I-485 –

  • Form G-325A, Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
  • Copy of government issued photo identification
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of passport page with non-immigrant visa (if applicable)
  • Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp (if applicable)
  • Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record (if applicable)
  • Certified copies of court records (if you have been arrested)
  • Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
  • Applicable fees
  • Approval notice for Form I-526 (Form I-797)

 

Procedure to apply for a green card through Self- petition

It includes persons with extraordinary abilities, in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. It also includes individuals who were granted National Interest Waiver. Individuals of this category can file a petition through consular process in case they are not present in the United States. The consular process begins when the USCIS works up with the department of states after the completion of the I40 petition. An individual can obtain a green card while being in the United States as soon as the I-40 petition is being approved by the department of the state. Once the I-40 petition is being approved one can apply for the issuance of the green card to the individuals and adjustment of status can also be done by him after the approval of the I-40 petition.

Evidence for an I-485 petition

  • Evidence of inspection, admission or parole into the United States (Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record)
  • If you have already been approved for an immigrant petition, submit a copy of the approval notice sent to you by the USCIS
  • Two color photos were taken within 30 days
  • Form G-325A, Biographic Data Sheet (for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79)
  • Form I-693, Medical Examination (not required if you are applying based on continuous residence since before 1972, or if you have had a medical exam based on a fiancé visa)

 

Green card for jobs through special categories

  • Broadcaster: Under this category, individuals who are willing to seek employment in the United States and are employed in any field of broadcasting are eligible to apply for a green card in the United States. The term broadcaster includes reporter, writer, editor, announcer, news broadcast host. However, individuals from the entertainment field are not included under this category. Once your I-360 form, Petition for Amerasian widow(er), the special immigrant is being approved, you are eligible to obtain a green card. If the applicant is inside the United States then one must file an I-360. If the I-360 form of the applicant has been approved to obtain a green card through broadcast provisions then one must file an I-485 form, Application for permanent residence or adjustment of status once it is done by the applicant, the applicant would be issued a green card under broadcast provisions.
  • Religious Worker: This category includes ministers and non-ministers of religious vocations and occupations. They are eligible to obtain permanent residency under the following circumstances.
    • One must have been a member of a bona fide non-profit denominations for at least two years before filing an I-360 form.
    • Have been working for the past two years immediately before filing petitions a religious minister in a religious vocation either professional or non-professional capacity, or
    • In a religious occupation either professional or nonprofessional capacity seek to enter the United States solely to carry out such religious occupation of the employer’s denomination

One can apply for a green card in the United States as a religious worker by filing an I- I-360 petition. Once the I-360 petition is being approved, the applicant applying for a green card as a religious worker must file the I-485 form and a permanent resident or adjustment.

Procedure for obtaining Green Card for refugees and asylum

If one has been present in the United States for one year and his status as a refugee is not being terminated, then one is eligible to apply for green card. One must file form I-485, Application to register permanent residence or adjust status. Once one is being granted with a permanent residency one will have the adjustment of the status recorded the day one had entered the United States.

Documents required to support I-485

  • Form I-485 signed (Box “h” of Part 2 should be marked with the word “refugee” printed on the accompanying line)
  • Two photos in an envelope stapled to lower left corner
    • Your name and A-number, if known, should be lightly written in pencil on the back of each photo.
    • Details on photo size, etc., may be found in the Form I-485 instructions.
  • Form G-28, if applicable, signed by you and the attorney (or authorized representative)
    • Facsimile signature stamps are acceptable for the signature of the representatives
    • However, you must sign the initial Form G-28 submitted with the application in the original
  • Form G-325A
  • Form I-693, signed by you and the civil surgeon, with only the vaccination portion completed
    • You may have the vaccination part of the Form I-693 completed at any state or local health department or may choose to make an appointment with a civil surgeon designated by the USCIS to conduct medical examinations
    • Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to locate USCIS-designated civil surgeons (doctors) where you live or see the USCIS Civil Surgeons Locator page.
  • A complete Form I-693 is required only if:
    • There were medical grounds of inadmissibility noted at the time of arrival in the United States
    • If the refugee status was granted to the individual in the United States by an approved Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
    • If neither of these conditions applies, all that is required is the vaccination portion
  • Evidence of refugee status (This might include a clear, readable photocopy of Form I-94 or a copy of your Employment Authorization Document)
  • Proof of any legal name change you have obtained since you were granted refugee status

Procedure to apply for a green card in case of Family

In case a family member wishes to ask for a green card, then one can apply for the same by separately filing an I-485 form. However, a separate I-485 form is needed to be filled by each individual, though, all the forms of the same family must be sealed in one single envelope. In the case of change of address of the applicants who have applied for a green card, one must inform about the same to the USCIS within ten days of the change of address. In this case, each individual of the family must notify the authority in the same manner as the information given by one member of the family will not lead to a change in the address of all the members of the family. One can do so by mailing the AR11 form, Alien’s change address card to the address on the form.

 

Procedure for change in status of the Asylee

Once an individual has got the status of an asylum one may apply for a green card, after one year of getting an asylee status. The spouse and the children of the asylee are also eligible for the status of asylee in case they were being admitted to the United States as an asylee or were included in the grant of asylum during the period when you were being given the status of an asylee.

Eligibility Criteria for the status of an asylee

  • One should have been physically present in the United States at least for one year after one has been granted an asylum
  • One must continue to meet the definition of an asylee
  • One should not have abandoned their asylee status
  • One must not be firmly resettled in any foreign country
  • One must continue to be admissible to the United States

Procedure to apply for a green card

One must file an I-485 form, Application for a permanent residence or to adjust status to obtain a green card after being granted the status of an asylee.

As soon as one is being granted a green card, the derivatives of the asylee will have the date of the adjustment of status rolled back one year to the date after one is being granted the status of an asylee.

Supporting Evidence for form I-485

If your asylum status is granted, you should file a Form I-485 with the following supporting documentation (in this order):

  • Completed and signed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Completed and signed Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record, if required.
    • The Instructions for Form I-693
    • The Immigration Medical Examination page
  • Applicable fees
    • Asylees must pay the Form I-485 application fee and the fingerprint fee
    • Applicants under the age of 14 do not need to submit a fingerprint fee
  • Completed and signed Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability (if applicable)
  • Copy of your I-94 card
    • Asylees may also submit a copy of their approval notice granting asylum or a copy of the immigration judge’s orders showing that you were granted asylum
  • A completed Form G-325A, Biographic Information Sheet, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
  • Certified copies of court records (if you have been arrested)
  • Two passport-style photos

One must submit any foreign language documents, and the translator must be competent to translate the text in a correct manner, and it must be ensured that the translation is accurate.

In the case of family members of the asylee, the USCIS accepts an I-529 form from the individuals or derivatives of the asylee who do not meet the definition of the asylee to allow the children and spouse of the asylee to become permanent members of the United States. There are enormous advantages of having a green card. However, one must be cautious about the procedure to be followed to obtain a green card.

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