Green Cards Overview
Guide To The Rules, Requirements And Costs Of Obtaining A U.S. Green Card
A Green Card is a document that confirms a foreign national’s U.S. lawful permanent resident status. With only a few limitations, it allows a foreign national to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. A Green Card can be obtained through a U.S. family member’s petition, such as U.S. citizen spouse, or by way of an employer – where proof of the unavailability of U.S. workers to fill the position is usually required. A Green Card can be obtained while the foreign national is already in the U.S. in some sort of nonimmigrant visa status, such as H-1B worker or F-1 student, or in some limited cases as a visa overstay, or with no visa at all. Green Cards can also be obtained by way of being granted asylum, or relief in removal proceedings, or the Visa Lottery. Obtaining honest and realistic legal advice on how to get a green card, or whether Green Card status is even viable, is the first step any foreign national should take.
Green Card Requirements
There are more than a dozen or more roads to a Green Card, although most applicants require an immediate family member or a committed employer to sponsor them for a Green Card. Spouses of U.S. citizens will experience the quickest overall processing times, as will parents of adult (over 21 years old) U.S. citizens, and young children (under 21 years old) of U.S. citizens. Requirements and rules for green card processing are usually complex and vary depending on the foreign national’s circumstances.
Green Card Fees
Every few years, the government processing/filing costs and fees for obtaining a green card, or practically any other type of immigration benefit (whether it be a temporary visa, work permit or green card) increases. As far as legal fees and costs are concerned, the more complicated the green card process, the costlier the process will be.
Green Card Lottery
Each year, millions of people from all over world submit entries for the Green Card lottery to have a chance at one of 55,000 diversity immigrant visas and obtain “Green Card” status in the U.S. Excluded from eligibility are natives of Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru (new to the list), Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and Vietnam. That is because these are considered to be “high admission” nations, and the basis of Congress establishing the visa lottery statute was to provide immigration opportunities for individuals for other, non-high admission countries. The determination of which countries are “high admission” is made year to year.
All green card lottery applications are made electronically and specific, detailed instructions are available at www.travel.state.gov. Winners are chosen randomly by computer and notifications are forwarded by way of conventional mail. Applicants are specifically advised that email notification should not be expected, and to be on the look-out for scam artists using email and the Internet to take advantage of unsuspecting applicants. (Applicants are also provided with instructions for reporting Internet fraud or unsolicited emails.)
For more information on obtaining a green card, see Green Card Services.