A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Contact: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to apply for a U.S. green card?

The immigration laws in the U.S. are extremely complicated.  Many intending immigrants do not understand how they can apply for legal status in the U.S. The following is a summary of seven major ways that one may apply for a U.S. green card:

1. Petition by Close Family Members
If you have a parent, spouse, child, brother, or sister who are U.S. citizens, then you may be eligible to apply for a green card through them. Certain lawful permanent residents may also apply for their relatives. Each relative category has its own sets of rules.   Waiting times vary considerably according to the closeness of the relationship, the immigration status of your relative, your marital status, and your country of birth. For example, if you are in the United States, and married to a U.S. citizen, you may be able to obtain a green card within months.  However, if you are petitioned by your brother who is a U.S. citizen, it may take over ten years for you to obtain permanent residence, depending on your country of birth.

2. Petition by an Employer
A U.S. employer who cannot find a suitable and available U.S. worker to fill a job opening may petition for a qualified foreign worker for the opening.   This is the most common way for foreign workers, skilled or unskilled, to obtain permanent resident status. International students (F-1) and professional workers (H-1B) also frequently use this path to apply for permanent resident status. Normally, a labor certification needs to be approved before the employer may petition for a green card for the employee. Certain highly-qualified applicants are exempt from the labor certification requirement, e.g., extraordinary ability and national interest waiver (NIW) applicants.  They also not need sponsorship of a U.S. employer. 

3. Extraordinary Ability / Exceptional Foreign Nationals and Special Categories
For those people who possess extraordinary or exceptional ability, or work at international companies, they can apply for a green card directly without first obtaining a labor certification, and sometimes even without a job offer.  For some foreigners whose immigration is considered in the national interest of the United States, they may also apply for a green card on their own by requesting for a "national interest waiver".  Eligible religious worker such as priests, pastors, nuns, rabbis, and missionaries may also apply for a green card based on their need to work in the United States.

Every year, approximately 50,000 immigrant visas are available for nationals of countries which have not sent many immigrants to the U.S. during the preceding five years.  The odds are doubled if both you and your spouse apply at the same time.   

5.  Investor / Investment Visas
For those individuals who are able and willing to invest a substantial amount of capital in the U.S., they may also be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa based on the EB-5 visa category.  Their investment and business must meet very vigorous requirements and create at least 10 jobs in the U.S. 

Foreign nationals who have suffered persecution in the past or who fear persecution in the future may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status by applying for political asylum.   The alleged persecution must be based on race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group.  For those who are in the U.S., they can file for asylum affirmatively by using the I-589 form. Substantial documentation is required to support an asylum claim, and frivolous applications will be denied and penalized.

7. Extraordinary Relief / Special Programs
Finally, if you are in removal, deportation, or exclusion proceedings, you may also apply for permanent residence through suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal. Foreigners who are in imminent danger of getting deported may also request for Deferred Action. These are extraordinary forms of relief granted only to the most deserving applicants only.  From time to time, the U.S. government also implements special programs to help certain groups of individuals to obtain permanent resident status in the U.S. such as Section 245i benefits and amnesty.

No matter which category you choose to apply, remember not to take any shortcuts or file any untruthful applications.  There are many dishonest individuals out there who always try to scam intending immigrants.  Be careful, as taking the wrong path could have very serious consequences

If you are interested in applying for a U.S. green card, please schedule a legal consultation with our office at help@szetolaw.com or 1-732-632-9888.  

1 comment:

Unknown said...

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. See the link below for more info.