The Path to Permanent Residency—Green Cards
A Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a Green Card) gives the holder a legal right to live and work in the United States. Furthermore, a Green Card holder can apply for government-sponsored financial aid, can pay lowered “in-state” tuition rates, can receive Social Security benefits upon retirement, and can apply for U.S. citizenship.
There are four main qualifications for obtaining a Green Card. An immigrant:
Must be one of the immigrant categories established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA);
Must file a petition;
Must be admissible to the U.S.; and
Must be able to obtain a visa.
The main immigrant categories under the INA include family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants and special immigrants (refugees and asylees).
There are a fixed number of visas available for each category. The only exception to this limitation is for immigrants who are the parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen. For these immigrants who are very close relatives of U.S. citizens, there is no limit on the number of visas issued each year.
An immigrant must also not be ineligible for a Green Card under the INA’s guidelines. Some factors that will cause an applicant to be inadmissible include health-related grounds (communicable diseases that cause public health concerns or drug addiction), crime-related issues (conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, human trafficking offenses, money laundering offenses), and security concerns (espionage, sabotage, terrorist involvement).
Most Green Cards expire after 10 years and should be renewed within 6 months of this expiration date. Conditional residency cards are also issued, which last for 2 years. 90 days before these conditional cards expire, the holder must file a petition to have the conditions of residency removed. If the petition is approved, a Permanent Resident Card is issued and is valid for the standard 10-year period.
Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order may be questioning whether or not to file a petition for a Green Card. Under the current DACA order, recipients should still strongly consider filing a petition for a Green Card. DACA recipients are given temporary and discretionary relief from deportation, but the order does not provide a path to citizenship or permanent residency. Furthermore, DACA recipients can only receive state-sponsored financial aid for education in a handful of states and only enjoy in-state tuition prices in a minority of states. By contrast, a Green Card holder has the right to apply for all government-sponsored financial aid and receives in-state tuition prices nationwide.
An experienced immigration attorney at JRQ & Associates will be able to provide the best advice for helping individuals obtain permanent residency.
The United States immigration and naturalization laws can be complicated. Everyone's situation is different, and no one solution is correct for every person. The experienced immigration attorneys at JRQ & Associates can evaluate your situation and help you get the resolution that you need. Our immigration attorneys can help in all states in the United States. Contact an experienced immigration lawyer at JRQ & Associates to set up your free immigration consultation or to find out more about the services we can provide you.