Table of Contents
- Citizenship vs. Permanent Resident
- Who Should Apply for a Green Card?
- Start the Green Card Process
Diverse, driven, and strong, the United States is full of potential.
However, before you migrate, there are a lot of things to consider first! Like how to go about getting your green card. If you’re planning on moving to the U.S., here’s a straightforward guide that will help you through the immigration process.
As long as you comply with your visa requirements, then it is possible to become a permanent citizen too! Read on to learn everything you need to know about the green card process.
Citizenship vs. Permanent Resident
When you become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, it is referred to as getting your “green card.” To apply for this immigrant visa, and gain access to America’s borders legally, USCIS has an approval process.
Green cards are also known as Permanent Resident Cards (PRCs). They allow foreign nationals living in the U.S., to work lawfully within our country’s boundaries. Green card holders don’t have to worry about work restrictions during their time spent here.
Furthermore, green cardholders will receive more benefits than those who do not possess them. These benefits include, but are not limited to receiving Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, federal jobs, or security clearance.
Unlike a green card process, the citizen process is not an immigration process. It is a completely different legal proceeding that does not involve the USCIS.
When you are granted citizenship, it’s called naturalization. You take an oath of loyalty to America when this happens and you become recognized as an American citizen.
Who Should Apply for a Green Card?
Do you need a green card or some other type of travel permit? Here is a list regarding reasons why you may want to obtain your green card:
- Gain permanent resident status in the U.S.
- You plan on becoming naturalized.
- You need some type of security clearance.
- You wish to receive benefits
You’ll want to review the latest DV Lottery deadline facts, so you don’t miss out on applying. If you’re looking for temporary residency in the United States, you’d want a travel permit, instead. Temporary visas range from B2 (visitors) to F-1 (students).
Green Cards for Relatives
Next, family green cards make it possible for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, to live and work in the United States. They can reside in the U.S., assuming they can prove that they have a real relationship. The relationship has to be with their spouse or family member who is here legally. Another way to think about family green cards is that they allow you to sponsor your relatives.
Keep in mind that family-based visas come with a waiting period. The length of time will depend on the type of visa that is submitted for review. When it comes to establishing proof of a relationship, you’ll want to do a bit of preparation.
First, you must give the visa office proof that your family member has a legal relationship with you. Second, you’ll need to prove ties between both of your families. Thirdly, when filling out paperwork for a relative, you’ll most likely need an I-130 form (Petition for Alien Relative).
Work-Based Green Cards
When you have a work-related green card, it usually allows you to perform your job in the U.S. under American conditions and guidelines. It also lets you live here permanently too. Keep in mind that there are several jobs that do not qualify.
Track Delivery of Green Card
You can easily keep track of your green card process status online. You’ll need to sign up for an online account with USCIS. The account is free and will help in several ways.
Look for a “Case Status Online Account” option. You’ll receive automatic case updates, like the tracking number for your green card as it travels. You’ll also be able to register for “Informed Delivery” with the postal service.
The United States Postal Service Informed Delivery service provides daily updates of things you’re receiving. You can get images of the mail that’s coming your way. You can even set up text and email alerts. The second your green card arrives, you’ll know!
Green Card Interview Process
Are you getting ready to have a green card interview? While it’s normal to be a little nervous, there’s no need to be. The interview isn’t an interrogation.
The main purpose is to prove that you honestly filed for a green card. You’ll need to answer some questions, but nothing tricky or misleading. You can breathe easy knowing you already have all the answers needed.
Here are some common green card interview questions:
- Are you a criminal?
- Do you plan to have a job in America?
- Which state do you plan to live in?
- Are you planning on working for the government or military?
As you can see, green card questions are straightforward.
Do You Have a Criminal History?
Do you have a criminal record? You could still qualify for a green card. The 3 types of criminal convictions that will likely make it impossible for someone to receive a card are:
- Aggravated felonies
- Moral turpitude crimes
- Drug-related convictions
Aggravated felonies are crimes like murder, drug trafficking, or sexual abuse against minors. Crimes involving moral turpitude include things like animal abuse or fraud. Lastly, drug-related offenses can be anything from a minor infraction to a felony charge.
How Long Does It Take?
What’s the ETA on your green card process? A few factors could affect the wait time, like spousal sponsorship, or work permits. The biggest delays usually come from application errors.
When filling out green card forms, it’s best to double-check every detail. If you make a mistake in the process, you’ll need to start over from the beginning. That means more fees and more waiting time too!
How Can You Speed up the Process?
Do you need to know how to fast-track your green card process? Your best bet is by finding a way to get your I-130 form approved quickly. It’ll be one of the first steps in the application process, so getting approval will be crucial.
There are several ways that can help fast-track an I-130 form, but the best has to do with having a U.S. citizen spouse or child. As long as your spouse is willing, he or she can be the one to sponsor you and your relative’s green card application. Keep in mind that the government will need multiple documents from you.
For instance, you’ll have to provide things like birth certificates and marriage licenses. Most of them aren’t too hard to track down, but they can take some time. If you have a U.S. citizen family member willing to sponsor your application, that’ll be one less roadblock on the path to a green card!
How Can You Qualify for a Green Card?
If you’ve always wanted to know if you qualify for a green card, the answer is almost definitely yes. The only time it’s impossible to get one is if you have certain criminal convictions or a health condition that will make it difficult to enter America.
For instance, a green card holder might be denied if he or she has a communicable disease that will endanger public safety. Or, the individual may have been in prison for more than 5 years or convicted of 2+ crimes involving moral turpitude (like robbery).
If you don’t fit into either of those categories, you can likely qualify for a green card. Don’t worry about your education, past employment, or family. You won’t be asked to prove any of those things during an interview.
When you apply for a green card, it’s important to list all relatives that’ll be living with you in America on the forms. That means spouses and children 12 years old and younger. The government wants to make sure they’re aware of everyone they’ll be supporting.
My Green Card Got Stolen
Have you lost your green card? There’s hope, but you have to act fast. Your green card is like money; if you lose it, report it stolen as soon as possible.
Notify the authorities immediately. The faster you act, the easier it’ll be to get your documentation replaced. Some departments offer 24-hour emergency services while others work with appointments only.
You’ll want to find out all the details of what you need to do before heading into an office. Don’t just replace your card anywhere, either! You should only apply for a replacement with the organization that issued it in the first place.
Start the Green Card Process
It’s clear to see that the green card process is achievable! As long as you take your time filling out the paperwork, and use all the right information, you’ll be good to go. Remember to track the delivery of your card by setting up an online account.
Just go to the USCIS website, and look for a section that reads, “Case Status Online Account”. Start the application process today! Before you know it, your green card will arrive. If you’re lucky, it might even come ahead of schedule. For more guides, explore the rest of this site.