Green Card – Legal Permanent Resident
Green Card Options and Adjustment of Status
Green Card is the informal name of Lawful Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551. It is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immigrants allowing them to live and work in the country permanently. Its history dates back to the time of World War II, when first immigration law requirements were formulated in the face of large-scale arrival of Europeans fleeing war at home. On their entry, every immigrant was issued an “Alien Card,” a green-colored permit to authorize their stay in the United States. Thus, the word green card came into existence and continue to denote the US immigration visa enabling foreigners to become permanent residents in the country.
Today, a green card is the identification card for lawful residents in the United States. To know more about it and other visa conditions, get in touch with our Houston Immigration lawyers here to help you
How To Obtain A Green Card?
A green card is a way to obtain lawful permanent residence status in the United States. It authorizes one to live and work permanently in the country. However, one has to apply for it at a US consulate and fulfill certain conditions to obtain a green card. These terms and conditions include:
- The applicant has long-term employment in the United States.
- The applicant is married to a US citizen or green cardholder.
- The applicant’s immediate family members are lawful US residents.
What is the Adjustment of Status?
Foreigners living or working in the United States often must leave the country to apply for and complete green card formalities. In many cases, immigrants have overstayed their visas or have commitments that result in overstaying. Once they leave the country, it becomes tough for them to return, as the immigration agencies do not permit them to re-enter for several years because they overstayed their current visa. These people must seek what we call an inadmissibility waiver.
The adjustment of status is the only way for immigrants to apply for a green card while living in the United States and avoid issues associated with leaving the country and face re-entry issues. To know more about the entry regulations, waivers, and immigration rules, contact our office and speak with one of your immigration lawyers in Houston.
Eligibility for Adjustment of Status
The adjustment of status means adjusting an applicant of one category into another category of visa. They can benefit by applying for adjustment into the green card category while staying in the United States. Immigrants can apply for the green card adjustment of status only when they satisfy the following conditions.
- They are married to US citizens or lawful residents and entered the country lawfully irrespective of whether they have overstayed.
- Those who entered lawfully, are not staying or working in violation of visa terms and are qualified to get visas.
- Those eligible to get protection under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The provision allows certain qualified foreigners to apply for the adjustment of status even though they violated entry and visa conditions.
- Those who are allowed entry under the K-1 fiancée visa and married a US citizen within 90 days of arrival.
The Process of Adjustment of Status
Marriage, family relationships, refugee status, and employment are important criteria to apply for a Green card while staying in the United States. The applicant has to undergo an interview by USCIS officials, a detailed medical exam, and a complete background verification. If you need to work or travel while your green card application is under process, you must obtain approved travel re-entry permits. Zavala Texas Law can help you or your loved one apply for Adjustment of Status in the Houston office and help you obtain the travel documents needed to re-enter the country.
Green Card Through Marriage
The spouses of a US Citizen are given priority in the allocation of green cards. They are accepted as immediate relatives of US nationals and thus are given immigration preference. Even children of the foreigner spouse are given green cards based on the application of the US citizen.
The immigration law has set certain terms and conditions for foreigner spouse of a US national to apply for a marriage-based green card, such as:
- The person is legally married to a US citizen.
- The marriage is bonafide.
- No ongoing prior marriages.
- The US-based spouse is able to financially support the foreigner spouse.
The Green Card Process
To apply for a marriage-based green card visa, the US-based spouse must visit immigration offices in the United States or a consulate abroad and fill the required form. The application is processed at the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the place of residence of the US-based spouse. Once they approve the application, it goes to the National Visa Center, where the spouse needs to submit required forms, documents, and fees. This follows an interview, medical exam, and background verification for criminal records by the consulate. If everything is found to be without any objection, the marriage-based green card is granted. However, in the case of marriages less than two-year-old, the green card remains conditional.
If the couple is living in the United States, they can directly approach the USCIS and get the benefit of the adjustment of status provision. This is where having an experienced immigration lawyer can save you time and money.
- K-3 Spouse Visa
A US citizen can bring his or her spouse faster to the country through a K-3 visa. The law explicitly recognizes the fact that the marriage-based visa requires time and thus, allows an alternative in the form of a K-3 visa to enable the couple to live together in the United States. However, this is a temporary basis and can be converted to a green card visa through adjustment of status later.
- Green Card for the Spouse of US Residents
Unlike the spouse of a US citizen, the spouse of the US green cardholder has to wait for a fixed period of time before he or she becomes eligible to apply for a green card. The USCIS has set an annual limit for green cards to be given to spouses of green cardholders. Any such recent application may require at least five years of waiting. However, if the green-card-holder spouse becomes a US citizen during the application process, the foreigner spouse may get the benefit of adjustment status. Make your application process fast forward and give us a call to see if we can help US Resident spouse become a citizen.
Green Card for Parents
A parent of a US citizen aged 21 or above can get a green card immediately. However, the conditions for such an applicant say that the citizen must be residing in the United States and be able to financially sponsor the parent for 10 years.
Special provisions are available for parents of those serving in the armed forces. They need to apply for the adjustment through an immediate relative green card request and submit proof of parentage, fees, medical exam report, and financial sponsorship documents. The parent has to undergo a fingerprinting session, a background check, and an immigration interview.
If the parent is not located in the United States, the US citizen should initiate the process of application in a USCIS office. Both the parent and the US citizen are required to complete the process at the State Department’s National Visa Center. This follows the submission of documents and fees, medical exam, fingerprinting session, a background check, and immigration interview.
Special Category Family-Based Green Card
The following types of foreign nationals can apply for a US green card under this category.
- A US citizen’s children subject to repeated violence or suffering.
- A battered spouse of a US national.
- K-visa holders
- V nonimmigrant category applicants
- Widows of US citizens
- Children of foreign diplomats born in the country
Green Card and Citizenship
A green card allows one to live and work in the United States. Though it is not like the granting of citizenship, holding the green card for five years makes one eligible to apply for becoming a US citizen. If you are married to US national, you can apply for citizenship status three years after allowed a green card. Talk to our Citizenship immigration lawyers at Zavala Texas Law to know the application procedure and requirements.
Get in touch with Zavala Texas Law to know more about how to apply for a green card or renew a conditional green card.