Attempting to get a green card without an immigration lawyer can lead to mistakes that can cost you time and a lot of money. In some cases, your application may be denied.
If you are seeking to become a lawful permanent resident and/or citizen of the U.S., it is likely that you have heard a lot about green cards. With so many immigration terms to remember, it can be confusing to decipher what exactly it means to have a green card.
The term “green card” refers to the identity card a person who is a lawful permanent resident holds. Officially, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) calls the green card a Permanent Resident Card or an I-551.
Cards are issued based on certain criteria such as a family relationship to a U.S. citizen, a job offer from a U.S.-based company, winning the diversity lottery, making an investment in a U.S. business, etc. Learn more about what it means to have a green card below.
When Do You Get the Card?
Unfortunately, a green card is not handed out the moment you become a lawful permanent resident. If you are an immigrant with an immigrant visa, your passport will be stamped with a temporary I-551 stamp.
Those who adjust their status while in the U.S. will be given approval. No matter how you obtain a green card, you will likely have to wait a few weeks after approval to receive it.
To What Does a Green Card Entitle You?
Green card holders have the right to permanently live and work in the United States. Those who hold green cards are also entitled to certain health, educational, and other benefits. Green card holders can also petition for other family members or spouses to receive permanent residence.
While green card holders have many benefits, they are not allowed to vote. Furthermore, green cards can be revoked if the holder breaks the law, doesn’t update USCIS with their information, or does something that could be considered a “deportable” offense.
It should be noted that conditional green cards expire in two years and most other green cards expire in 10 years. Allowing it to expire can create complications with your immigration status.
How Can I Apply For a Green Card?
You can become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. in many ways. Various immigrant-based visas provide a pathway to permanent residence. Some of the most common include family-based, employment-based, investment-based, diversity lottery, etc.
There are three main steps that a visa holding immigrant must complete to apply for a green card. They include
- Visiting the Green Card Eligibility page to learn your status
- Complete all necessary forms
- Submit your application for a green card
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Get a Green Card?
Technically, no, you do not need to hire an immigration attorney to get a green card. However, it is recommended that you do retain one. Click here for more information. A lawyer can help to ensure that you follow the correct procedures, have error-free documentation, and are well-prepared for the process.
Attempting to get a green card without an immigration lawyer can lead to mistakes that can cost you time and a lot of money. In some cases, your application may be denied. Thus, it is typically in your best interest to work with a proven immigration lawyer to increase the likelihood of a smooth process.