A green card or a permanent resident card is a government-issued document that indicates an individual is a lawful permanent resident of the United States and can work anywhere or travel in and out of the country freely. Getting a green card is one of the most memorable and exciting moments for most immigrants in the United States. However, the only way to initiate the green card process is by acquiring an immigrant visa. With a green card, immigrants can apply for citizenship after three to five years.
How To Be Eligible for a Green Card
As mentioned earlier, you can’t secure a green card without first securing an immigrant visa. After that, you’ll need to be eligible for a green card through one of the eligibility categories below.
Green Card Through Family
You can be eligible to apply for a green card through family if you are:
- An immediate relative of a US citizen, e.g., you’re married to a US citizen or a parent of a US citizen at least 21 years of age.
- The relative of a lawful permanent resident, e.g., you’re married to a lawful permanent resident.
- A fiancé(e) or widower of a US citizen.
- An abused parent, child, or spouse of a US citizen.
Green Card Through Employment
You can be eligible to apply for a Green card through employment if you are:
- A physician working full-time in clinical practice.
- An active immigrant investor.
- A first, second, or third preference immigrant worker.
Green Card as a Special Immigrant
You can be eligible to apply for a green card as a special immigrant if:
- You work for a non-profit religious organization.
- The US law considers you a special immigrant juvenile
- You’re an Afghanistan or Iraq citizen who worked for the US government.
- You served as a member of the US Agency for Global Media.
- You’re an employee of an international organization or NATO, or an eligible family member of a qualifying employee.
Green Card Through Refugee Status
You can be eligible to apply for a green card through refugee status if you satisfy any of the conditions below:
- You were granted asylum or admitted as a refugee in the United States at least one year ago.
Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
You can be eligible to apply for a green card through this category if you satisfy any of the conditions below:
- You’re a crime or human trafficking victim having a T or U nonimmigrant visa.
Green Card Through Registry
You can be eligible to apply for a green card through this category if:
- You have resided in the US before January 1, 1972.
There are several other eligibility categories not listed above. However, you can consult a professional immigration attorney from ZafiroLaw to provide you with further information regarding eligibility requirements for your specific case.
Green Card Application Process
Every green card category has steps and processes to follow. The processing can take between 10 to 38 months, depending on where you are applying from. For example, if you’re applying from the United States for adjustment of status and your immediate relative is a US citizen, processing takes an average of 13 months.
Processing takes up to two years for relatives of green card holders or those applying for employment-based green cards within the United States.
On the other hand, suppose you’re applying for a green card from outside the US via consular processing, and your immediate relative or spouse is a US citizen. In that case, the green card process may be shorter.
All other green card types and categories have varying wait times depending on the country you’re applying from.
How To Apply for a Green Card
There are a few steps involved when applying for a green card. They include:
Finding Out Your Eligibility Status
You need to at least fall under one eligibility category to apply for a green card.
Fill the Appropriate Forms
After determining that your eligibility status is valid, you’ll need to:
- Submit the appropriate forms to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)or the National Visa.
- Submit all supporting documents.
- Pay all the required fees.
Wait for Processing
The green card processing period varies depending on your location and the type of green card you’re applying for. The USCIS will schedule an interview with you after reviewing your application.
Issuing of the Green Card
If your application and interview with USCIS are successful, you’ll be issued a green card valid for two or ten years.
What is the Cost of Applying for a Green Card?
The total cost of applying for a green card varies depending on your location and your eligibility category.
Other costs, such as the medical examination fee, are not part of the filing fee. The USCIS website provides the most current fee schedule.
ZafiroLaw is Here To Help You Through the Process
ZafiroLaw consists of qualified immigration lawyers serving Seattle and the surrounding cities in King and Snohomish counties. So whether you’re looking for an experienced green card attorney in Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Mountlake Terrace, or further north in Bothell and its surroundings, we’ve got you covered! We also take immigration cases across the USA or outside the country. Call us at 206-547-9906 or contact us online today!