If an individual is in the U.S. and they are eligible for ‘Lawful Permanent Status’, (also known as a Green Card) they may apply to ‘adjust their status’. If a person is currently outside the United States, they cannot apply for adjustment of status, and will have to go to their local embassy, through a process known as ‘consular processing’
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF HOLDING A GREEN CARD CAN BE
The majority of visas sought, requires some form of sponsorship, and this is normally through a family member or an employer. A sponsor (particularly in the family context) may need to submit an ‘affidavit of support’, accepting financial responsibility for the immigrant(s), which can last until the immigrant(s) become a U.S. citizen, or are credited with forty quarters of work (which is normally ten years). To be eligible as a sponsor you must be over the age of twenty-one, domiciled in America and either be a citizen or a legal permanent resident. A sponsor must be able to submit proof of twenty-five percent above the existing federal poverty guidelines and net worth to support themselves and their family, as well as the immigrant. If the sponsor is on active duty in the American armed forces, then their income must be equal to the published federal guidelines.
GREEN CARD CATEGORIES
There are a number of avenues how an individual can obtain a green card, and these are principally:
You qualify as an immediate relative if you:
- Are a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- An unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; or
- The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older).
If you are a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen, there may also be relief. To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove that you were legally married to the citizen, that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.
There are many employment visas that are available to immigrants, which include the EB, H-1B, L, O, P, R, etc., and depending on the category an Applicant may be eligible for a green card. Let’s briefly look at the EBs:
a) First Preference – (EB-1)
Individuals with special abilities, distinguished academics, professors, researchers, and international executives are eligible for first preference permanent residency. People can provide evidence for why they should receive first preference. That evidence can range from a Pulitzer or Nobel Peace Prize, an athletic award, membership in a professional association, to a publication. This category is preferred if an individual qualifies for it, as there is no need for a labor certification process to be undertaken.
b) Second Preference (EB-2)
Professionals with advanced degrees or workers with exceptional talent are eligible for the EB-2. If not applying for a ‘National Interest Waiver’, which is available to some EB-2 candidates, then your employer must be willing to undertake the labor certification process.
c) Third Preference (EB-3)
Skilled workers, professionals and other workers are eligible for the third preference visa, who do not fit into any of the above categories. All three types of workers must have an employer to sponsor them and undertake the PERM process.
Workers are required to have at least two-years of experience and professionals usually require degrees from accredited universities. There can be long delays in the processing of this visa. Please refer to the visa bulletin.
d) Fourth Preference (EB-4)
The following ‘Special Immigrants’ maybe eligible for the fourth preference visa:
- Religious workers.
- Panama Canal Company Employee, Canal Zone Government Employee, or U.S. Government in the Canal Zone Employee.
- G-4 International Organization Employee or Family Member or NATO-6 employee or family member.
- Afghanistan or Iraq national who worked with the U.S. armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator.
- Iraq national who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq; or,
- Afghanistan national who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
e ) Fifth Preference (EB-5)
Investors and their immediate family members are eligible to apply for permanent residence if they can make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States, and plan to create or preserve the permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
The money required for an investment has recently increased and the standard minimum investment is now $1.8 million (from $1 million) to account for inflation. The minimum investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) has increased to $900,000 (from $500,000) to account for inflation, and future increases will also be tied to inflation (per the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U) and occur every 5 years.
The spouse and minor children (under the age of 21 years of age) of the above visa holders may be eligible to apply for green cards. The family members may live in the U.S. as permanent residents and pursue citizenship in five years after obtaining their LPR status. Children may receive schooling while the spouse can apply for authorization to work.
Under this category green cards are available to persons who have been trafficked (T visa) and for crime victims (U visa).
There are certain victims of abuse who may be eligible for a green card. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA ) self-petitioners, who are also eligible via the ‘family’ category. A self-petitioner may be male or female and are the abused immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and in some cases, lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
‘Juveniles’ who have been abused and abandoned are given this status via a U.S. Court (normally the family Court). Typically, a juvenile will have gone through a guardianship process, but this status can also be derived from a custody, divorce or other types of hearings.
Additionally, victims of abuse under certain government acts, for example, the Cuban Adjustment Act, may also qualify to adjust their status.
You may be eligible to receive permanent residence, under the registry provisions if you meet all of the following conditions:
- You entered the United States prior to Jan. 1, 1972 .
- You have resided in the United States continuously since you entered.
- You are a person of good moral character.
- You are not ineligible for naturalization (citizenship).
- You are not removable (deportable) under Section 237(a)(4)(B) the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
- You are not inadmissible under Section 212(a)(3)(E) of the INA or as a criminal, procurer, other immoral person, subversive, violator of the narcotics laws or alien smuggling.
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