5 Essential Steps to Secure Your Green Card

The path to a green card for those who work in the United States typically involves an employer filing a labor certification with the Department of Labor. It is known as the PERM process.

A person may also be eligible for a green card if returning to their home country would endanger their life. It is called asylum.

Identify Your Eligibility

Obtaining a Green Card can be achieved through a variety of methods. The documentation required to prove your eligibility varies depending on the immigrant category you select. 

Family-based green cards are available to close relatives of U.S. citizens, including spouses, children, parents, and siblings. You can get your green card through employment-based categories, including EB2 and EB3.

Applicants for green cards must be considered “admissible” by USCIS, meaning they do not pose a security threat or have any criminal records that would bar them from receiving permanent residency. For this reason, you must complete your background checks and prepare all necessary documents before beginning your application.

Prepare Your Documents

Green cards are official government documents that indicate you are a lawful permanent resident. Known as LPRs, these cards grant you more freedom than visa holders, but you still must follow specific responsibilities and restrictions to maintain your status.

The types of documentation you need to submit vary by green card category. For example, those applying for a marriage-based green card must provide proof of their relationship and meet other requirements specific to that category. Those seeking an EB-5 visa must provide financial documents demonstrating they are qualified investors.

In addition. You may be required to attend an interview with a USCIS officer or consular official, depending on your particular application type and country of origin. To prepare for your interview, gather all the documentation you have submitted and any additional information you believe will be helpful to your case.

Submit Your Application

Once USCIS has received and approved your sponsor’s petition, you can submit either an adjustment of status application or a consular application (depending on your circumstances. Depending on the category of green card for which you are applying, the wait for your visa number to become available can range from several months to years.

Employment-based categories have a preference system that can reduce the time it takes for a green card to become available, such as for specialized workers and advanced degree holders. Likewise, refugees and asylum seekers typically have a shorter wait time.

However, green card holders must maintain their status in the United States and not leave the country for too long to avoid losing their immigration benefits. If you have a green card, you can also apply for citizenship at any point, which offers additional benefits.

Provide Biometrics

As part of the Green Card process, USCIS will arrange for you to attend an appointment to have your fingerprints and photograph taken. This appointment will occur at an ASC, a USCIS-authorized Biometrics Appointment Center. The purpose of the appointment is for USCIS to confirm your identity and conduct a criminal background check.

It is essential to attend your biometrics appointment on time or early. If you are late, it may delay the processing of your case. Also, if you cannot attend, you must contact USCIS to reschedule your appointment. Bringing weapons, electronic devices, food, or cameras into the ASC fingerprinting area could be better. It will slow the process and may require rescheduling of your biometrics appointment.

Attend Your Interview

USCIS officers will want to review your green card application and related documents in person before deciding. They typically conduct these interviews at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad (for cases that require a visa) or at a local USCIS office in the United States (for family and employment-based applications).

The interviewer will likely ask about your green card application and related forms. They will also seek clarification on any information you have provided, especially in case of discrepancies.

During your interview. The interviewer will generally have you stand up and raise your right hand to take an oath to tell the truth. Telling a lie during this process is taken very seriously and may lead to your denial of your green card.

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