Green Card Application
Getting your permanent resident card, also known as a green card, is a very exciting time in someone’s life and will give the bearer the right to permanent residency in the United States. There are many requirements in order to be granted this special privilege, and there is extensive paperwork that is required along with each of these requirements. Minor clerical errors on the application, omitted paperwork, or incorrect documentation can set an applicant back significantly and can cause a series of delays for relatively minor issues on a green card request.
Working with an immigration attorney is the best way to ensure that you are minimizing your risk of delays on your application and that your chances of being approved the first time are as good as possible. We will go through each step of your application with you, making sure that all of the required documentation is included in your submissions, that your deadlines are all met, and that any information required is provided clearly.
Read more below about some specifics regarding a green card application. If you’re getting a green card in FL or applying for a green card renewal, contact us now to schedule an initial consultation to speak with a Florida immigration attorney today.
What Is a Green Card?
A green card is officially known as a “Permanent Residence Card.” An immigrant to the United States who is a green card holder is authorized to work and live in the United States permanently. In addition to the privileges granted by a green card regarding living and working freely, anywhere in the United States, the green card is also the next step towards citizenship. Once an individual has been granted a permanent residence card, they will be able to start working towards citizenship within three to five years.
Types of Green Cards
There are a variety of different paths towards a green card, and ultimately U.S. citizenship. Take a look below to see a brief overview of a few of the most common types of green cards issued in the United States.
Family-Based Green Card
A family-based green card is an opportunity for family members of someone who is either already a U.S. citizen or green card holder to get a pathway towards their own permanent residence card. The family members that are considered for this type of green card are spouses, children, siblings, and parents. In addition, it includes the spouses, children, and siblings of those who are eligible. More distant relations are not eligible for this pathway.
Employment-Based Green Card
There are many different types of employment-based green cards depending on the applicant’s industry, level of expertise, specialty, and more. Since there is such a wide variety of employment-based green cards, it is recommended that you work with a Florida green card attorney in order to determine the most appropriate application for you to complete, and the right green card for your circumstances.
Diversity Lottery Green Card
The diversity lottery is a program that randomly selects up to 50,000 people each year from a wide range of countries of origin. The initial criteria for this type of visa is that the person is from a country with historically-low immigration numbers into the United States—hence the “diversity” focus of the lottery.
Frequently Asked Questions About Green Card Applications
The following are just a few questions that we commonly answer during initial consultations. Be mindful of the fact that these questions are extremely specific to your situation, and so the best way to get an accurate answer is to contact us as soon as possible.
What Is a Green Card?
A “green card,” more officially known as a permanent resident card, is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The bearer of a permanent resident card is authorized to live and work anywhere in the United States. Typically a green card must be renewed every 10 years unless issued through marriage or another conditional green card; these must be replaced within the first two years.
Do I need a green card if I have a visa?
If you have a “nonimmigrant” visa then this certification is temporary and you will need to consider your next step before it expires. If you have an active work visa, then you will be able to perform work in the United States until it expires. However, if you want to have a permanent ability to live and work in the United States, then you will need to apply for a green card. This is also a significant step in becoming a naturalized American citizen.
Does a green card expire?
Typically, a green card is valid for 10 years, at which point you will need to apply for a replacement card. However, your rights as a permanent lawful resident do not expire with the card; once you are issued a green card, your residency is permanent except for very specific situations where it may be revoked, such as if you are convicted of certain types of fraud or other criminal activity.
How do I renew a green card in FL?
FL green card renewals can be complicated, which is why we recommend working through an attorney who handles U.S. citizenship and immigration cases. You should start the green card renewal application process six months before your green card expires. You can renew your green cards online or by mail.
- Go to the immigration services USCIS webpage and open an account.
- Download and complete Form I-90.
- You’ll need to upload evidence that you have a green card, like an image of your green card or expired green card.
- Sign your application
- Pay any fees associated with the renewal application
- Submit your application
- Pick up or print a copy of Form 1-90
- Complete the green card application and sign it
- Make a copy for your records
- Make a copy of your green card, expired green card, or additional evidence of your status
- Mail your application to USCIS
What does it mean to be a “lawful permanent resident?”
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s page about Lawful Permanent Residents, “lawful permanent residents (LPRs), also known as “green card” holders, are non-citizens who are lawfully authorized to live permanently within the United States. LPRs may accept an offer of employment without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges and universities, and join the Armed Forces. They also may apply to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain eligibility requirements.”
What does a green card entitle me to do?
When the U.S. Government issues you a green card, you can reside, work, and go to school in the United States. If you have a green card, you do not need to apply for other permits, such as a work visa or student visa. You do not, however, enjoy the full rights of a U.S. citizen. For instance, you cannot vote in local, state, or federal U.S. elections.
What are my options if I’m not eligible to file for a green card?
Depending on your personal situation, there are a number of other avenues that will allow you to move to the U.S., maintain employment, attend school, or conduct business. You should speak to an attorney if permanent resident status is not an option. You may be eligible for a visa that can help you accomplish your goals.
What are some of the other immigrant visas available through the U.S. Department of State?
While there are too many specific visa types to list individually, the U.S. Department of State grants visas for many circumstances, including:
- Spouse of a citizen
- Fiance of a U.S. citizen
- Persons related to U.S. citizens
- Family members of permanent residents
- Priority workers
- Professionals holding advanced degrees
- Individuals of exceptional ability
- Investors and entrepreneurs
- Other types of specialty workers
Because there are so many types of visas, it’s easy to apply for the wrong type or to file for an application that is not optimal for your situation. Contact our immigration law office to learn more about the options that are available to you.
How longs does it take to receive a green card?
According to the USCIS website, obtaining a green card can take 120 days from the date of the application. There are, however, other factors that may delay the process and it could take a year or more. For instance, the U.S. Government occasionally puts freezes on the immigration process. Additionally, errors in application documents have caused significant delays and denials in the past.
Contact Us Today
There are many different avenues available for you to work towards receiving a permanent residence card, each of which depends on a variety of factors that are best explored with the help of an experienced immigration attorney. Contact us today to get working on your own situation today.
As you can imagine from the information provided on this page, the process of applying for a permanent resident card in the United States is both complicated and exhausting, especially for a non-native English speaker, someone attempting to file for themselves as well as others, and generally just someone who is unfamiliar with the process. We are here to help.