The process of applying for and obtaining a green card is called “Adjustment of Status.” This is the most coveted immigration benefit because it is the pre-requisite to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. There are a number of ways to get a U.S. green card, however, the process can sometimes be complex if you have unique circumstances.
I will make sure that all of your documents are in order and all applications are accurately completed. I can attend your adjustment of status interview with you so that your case is presented in the best possible manner leading to a positive outcome.
While you are waiting for your green card to be approved, I will ensure that you receive a work permit and travel document upon filing your paperwork with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The green card approval process can take anywhere from 4 months to 1 year if you are already in the United States, therefore, you need to be able to work and travel legally during this waiting period.
You will need a person who has the financial means to file an “affidavit of support” on your behalf. If you are getting your green card through a family member, your petitioner would be the one to do this, however, if your petitioner does not have the required proof of income and documentation, there are other options. Another person besides your petitioner can be your financial sponsor. It is our goal to make sure that we guide you in the right direction so that your green card application will be approved.
If you are in the United States, in order to be able to apply for a green card you must have entered the U. S. legally and be in lawful status (unless your petitioner is an immediate relative, then you can be out of status and still apply for the green card, however you must have entered legally). Upon your arrival, you would have received an I-94 card (arrival/departure record) when you went through immigration and customs inspections. This is the document that shows the date you arrived and the length of time you are authorized to stay. Without this I-94 card, you could have difficulty proceeding with an adjustment of status application. If you lost this document or if you arrived more recently by air or sea when I-94 cards are no longer given out, we can assist you with obtaining a duplicate record from USCIS by completing the I-102 application or by looking it up online. If you did not enter the United States legally, then you are referred to as EWI meaning “entered without inspection.” Those who EWI cannot adjust to a lawful permanent resident, unless they had a family petition or labor certification filed for them on or before April 30, 2001 as well as some other requirements.
If you are not in the United States and you have a relative who can petition for you, then you may be eligible for consular processing so that you can have your adjustment of status interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country and arrive in the U.S. with your green card. Read our blog post, “It’s All About The Numbers – Family Visas Explained.”
Heitz Immigration Law can provide you with legal advice and administer all of the following green card services. Affordable flat rates, flexible payment plans and stellar customer service are standard.
The I-485 application is submitted to adjust your status. But you must have a basis upon which to adjust to a lawful permanent resident. This would usually be either through an approved I-130 family petition or an approved I-140 worker petition. Either of these petitions can be submitted at the same time as the I-485 adjustment of status application if there is an immediate visa available for you, the beneficiary. Other forms such as the affidavit of support, work permit, travel document, and more will also need to be submitted to USCIS for your adjustment package. Read more about how U.S. individuals can petition for their family members in our blog post: It’s All About The Numbers – Family Visas Explained.
If you have a “conditional green card” because you adjusted your status based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen when the marriage was less than 2 years old, you will need to submit form I-751 so that these conditions are removed. If this process is not completed timely, you will loose your green card status. Read more about how this entire process works in our blog post: How To Remove The Conditions From Your Marriage-Based Green Card.
Perhaps you have lost your green card. U.S. immigration laws do require you to hold a valid green card for identification purposes. This does not mean that you have to always have your green card in your wallet, however, should you need to provide identification to authorities, the card must be readily accessible. You will also need your green card to prove your lawful permanent resident status when you apply for a job. Most green cards (issued after 1990) expire after 10 years. Older cards issued before 1990 do not expire, and there is no law that requires you to renew these at this time. Find out more about this process in our blog post: Do You Need To Renew Your Green Card?
Yes, there is an actual green card lottery! Each year there are up to 50,000 visas granted to those who have applied for this lottery. To be eligible you must be from a country with a low U.S. immigration level. The registration window for this is very short: It always begins on Oct. 1 (the start of the U.S. Immigration fiscal year) and lasts for only about 4 weeks. Read more about this unique program eligibility here.
There is no substitute for knowledgeable representation, especially because immigration laws can be technical and complex. Be wary of so-called “document-preparers” or “paralegals” who do not work for an attorney. These types of service providers cannot give you legal advice and can cost you dearly if you run into difficulties or have unique circumstances that require specialized guidance. Making critical mistakes on applications can result in your case being delayed, or even worse, denied.
My entire practice is devoted to immigration and naturalization law. I am admitted to practice immigration law in all 50 states, therefore, I can provide legal counsel to my clients from around the world in their desire to live and work in the USA. My goal is to open the door to opportunity for you and your family as I defend your rights and take you through the U.S. immigration process step by step.
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