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Helping Immigrants In The U.S. Seek Green Card Status

A green card can lead to countless opportunities. However, the process of getting one can be long and complicated. Those seeking permanent residency status can navigate it with experienced legal help. Our lawyers at Canizares Law Group, LLC, can guide them through the process and increase their chances of obtaining permanent residency status in the United States.

What Is A Green Card?

A green card is a specific visa that allows immigrants to live and work permanently in the United States. The critical difference between a green card and other types of visas is that green cards allow immigrants to stay in the United States permanently, while other visas typically only grant temporary stays. Green card holders have many of the same benefits as U.S. citizens. However, green card holders can’t vote or run for public office; they can also still face deportation.

How Do Immigrants Obtain A Green Card?

Below are the steps that immigrants must take to seek permanent resident status.

Step 1: Determining Eligibility

Before they even begin the application process, immigrants must see if they are eligible for a green card. To qualify, they must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • They have one or more immediate family members who are green card holders or U.S. citizens.
  • They seek asylum or refugee status because of persecution, natural disaster, political violence, war or other threats in their home country.
  • They’ve resided in the United States for at least a decade.
  • The U.S. government places high value on their work skills.

Even if immigrants don’t meet any of these requirements, they can still qualify under exceptional or extraordinary circumstances. Our attorneys can help you determine whether your circumstances could make you eligible. Speak with one of them today by calling 305-686-3187. Se habla español.

Step 2: Determining The Appropriate Application Process

The process can look different depending on where the immigrant lives when they apply. For instance:

  • If they live in the U.S.: If they live in the United States and have an approved petition from a sponsor, then they can complete Form I-485 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If they don’t have a petition, then they can see if they can submit a petition and their Form I-485 simultaneously.
  • If they don’t live in the U.S.: If the immigrant does not live in the United States, then they typically have to do consular processing with the U.S. Department of State.

Step 3: Providing Identification

Once immigrants submit all the petitions and paperwork, they typically have to provide identity verification through photos, signatures or fingerprints.

Step 4: The Interview

After providing identification, an immigrant typically undergoes an interview process, where a USCIS officer asks them questions about their application and any changes to their circumstances since they submitted their paperwork.

Step 5: Application Approval Or Denial

The USCIS usually determines who gets permanent residency status. If it approves an immigrant’s application, then they will typically receive their green card within one month. If it doesn’t approve an immigrant’s application, the USCIS will send a letter with an explanation stating why they were rejected.

In the event of a denial, it’s vital to speak with an immigration lawyer about the next steps. Our team can help you appeal your denial or restart the application process.

What Is A Green Card Sponsor?

The sponsor is the person who signs an Affidavit of Support for the individual seeking green card status. By signing the Affidavit of Support, the sponsor essentially agrees to provide financial support for the applicant so that the immigrant will not become dependent on public relief programs once they receive permanent resident status. Most often, the sponsor is also the petitioner who files the immigrant petition on the intending immigrant’s behalf. This could be a relative who is a U.S. citizen or has green card status or an employer that is based in the U.S. and offering the intending immigrant a permanent, full-time job in this country.

The sponsor’s obligations under the Affidavit of Support last until the beneficiary immigrant either 1) becomes a U.S. citizen, or 2) completes 40 quarters of work (which usually translates to 10 years). Thus, the person asked to be the sponsor should make sure they are confident the beneficiary has a job and a promising career lined up before they agree to sign the affidavit. Otherwise, immigration authorities could hold them responsible for any welfare money the beneficiary receives.

What Is A Conditional Green Card?

Conditional green cards are for immigrants who are seeking permanent resident status based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen, but have been married for less than two years. The conditional green card is only valid for two years, while the standard green card lasts 10 years. If you wish to convert to a standard green card, you and your spouse must apply to remove the conditions within 90 days of the date your conditional green card expires. Otherwise, you could be at risk of deportation.

Can You Leave The U.S. If You Have A Green Card?

Yes. One of the benefits of adjusting your status from an immigrant visa to a permanent resident is that you gain the right to leave the U.S. as often as you like, as long as you do not stay outside the country for one year or longer and you bring your green card with you. If you intend to stay away a year or longer, you must apply to USCIS for a re-entry permit, which can last for up to two years. Otherwise, the law presumes that you left the country because you intended to give up permanent residency status. You would likely have to go through legal proceedings to refute this presumption and preserve your green card.

Seek Permanent Resident Status With Help From Experienced Attorneys

Our lawyers have helped countless immigrants seek green card status from our Miami office and have assisted countless others in appealing or reapplying after denials. They understand how complicated the system can be, and they are committed to helping you seek permanent resident status so that you can pursue your version of the American dream. Our attorneys can help you start today. Call 305-686-3187 or complete our contact form to schedule an initial consultation. Se habla español.