What It Means to Get a “Green Card”: Every year the United States government issues more than 575,000 green cards. These are necessary to permanently work in the country and can be a major stepping stone toward citizenship.
“Green card” is a term that people are familiar with, but few are aware of the complex and varied processes involved in obtaining one. If you are interested in learning more about this, the information below lays it out for you. It will tell you everything you need to know about the steps necessary to become a lawful permanent resident.
Green Card Basics
A green card, also known as a “Permanent Residence Card,” allows an immigrant to permanently reside in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which handles all naturalization benefits for immigrants, is the agency the issues them.
A green card is distinct from a visa, which allows someone to visit the United States for different reasons. These include business, medical procedures, and education.
Obtaining an “immigrant visa” is a distinct process. It entails the intention to seek a permanent resident card and can be the first step to obtaining a green cards.
How to Get a Green Card
The process for getting a green cards is straightforward. The wait is typically about a year, sometimes a little longer. The expediency depends on the avenues through which one is seeking “adjustment of status.”
An application for green cards costs between $1,200 and $1,760. The amount will depend on several factors, including whether you currently live in or outside the country.
One way to obtain a green card is if you have an immediate family member, such as a spouse or parent, who is a U.S. citizen. This is both the most straightforward and the fastest way to get a green cards. You also can apply for a green card if you have a more distant relative that is a citizen, although that process can take longer.
The second most prevalent way to get a green card is through employment. This requires demonstrating some level of proficiency at an occupation. It also involves showing that you are occupying a position that may otherwise go unfilled.
There are other categories, such as if you have refugee status or are an asylee. Victims of human trafficking or other crimes may qualify for green cards. Those affected by civil or political unrest in specific places, such as those from Cuba or Liberia, also are eligible.
Green Cards and Citizenship
A green card is a step towards U.S. citizenship. This entails applying for “adjustment of status” through an N-400 form.
The N-400 timeline is slightly more arduous than the green card process. It involves providing detailed documentation demonstrating eligibility. The application process, which can take well over a year, also involves an exam and interview with a USCIS officer.
Once they approve the application, the individual attends a naturalization ceremony where they take the Oath of Allegiance. After that, they will receive a certificate of naturalization which confirms that they are a U.S. citizen.
Learn More About the Immigration Process
Now that you have an idea of what a green card is and how to obtain one, you can begin the application. Note that many organizations can help you learn more about green cards and other immigration processes, including applications for U.S. citizenship.
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