Applying for a green card, also known as an adjustment of status if does within the United States, allows visa holders in the United States to obtain lawful permanent residence. Some visa holders in the United States do not have to leave the country to apply, but people outside of the country must obtain a visa abroad. Below, our Salinas immigration lawyer explains the steps necessary if you want to apply for a green card based on a family relationship while in the United States.
Obtaining a green card is exciting, but the process is complicated. You should always first request a consultation with an immigration lawyer that can advise on your case. An attorney will also help you through every step of the process, so you have the best chance of approval.
There are a number of ways for people to obtain a green card in the country. Whether or not you are eligible will largely depend on the immigrant category you are applying under and your past immigration history. Some past actions can make you inadmissible to the United States, and understanding the recourses (such as a waiver) you may have should be done early on in your case.
Green card applicants typically apply in one of two ways. The first is by pursuing a visa for an immediate relative, such as a spouse, an unmarried child under the age of 21, or a parent, of a United States citizen. These visas are unlimited and are always available. The second type of visa is family-sponsored and employment-based preference petitions, which are limited to a certain number every year. Not everyone that is inside the United States with a visa is eligible to adjust status in the United States. This eligibility determination is complicated and may risk your underlying visa status, so it is best to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine eligibility.
An immigration lawyer can advise on the documents you will need when applying for a green card. These may include a birth certificate, marriage certificate, financial documents, proof of sponsor citizenship, medical examination document, and more.
The person sponsoring your application will have to file a petition to establish that they have the status to be a Petitioner (often proof that they are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident), as well as confirm their relationship to you. A California immigration lawyer can advise on what type of petition you should file and how to document your eligibility.
You can file a Form I-485 if you qualify for a green card and are in the United States. Depending on the visa bulletin for your visa category, you may be able to file Form I-485 concurrently with your Petition. You may also have to file Form I-485 Supplement A, Adjustment of Status if you qualify under INA § 245(i). An immigration lawyer can advise on whether this form is necessary. You will also complete a medical examination during the adjustment process.
After you have applied for a green card, you will receive a notice in the mail regarding a biometrics services appointment. You will have to visit an Application Support Center (ASC) to provide your photograph, signature, and fingerprints. This information is used to conduct the necessary security and background checks, and to verify your identity.
A lawyer can help you gather the necessary documents you will need for the interview and will let you know what you can expect at the interview. Oftentimes, both you and your Petitioner will attend, and it is the opportunity for the USCIS Officer to review your forms and supporting documentation with you, and determine your eligibility for the benefit you are requesting. You must bring the original documents for the Officer to examine. It is highly advisable to have your attorney present with you at your interview.
If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines an interview is necessary, you will have to appear at a USCIS office. During the interview, officials will ask you questions under oath. You must often bring any family member that filed the petition on your behalf and bring all necessary documents with you.
When your application is approved, you will receive written notice before receiving your actual green card.
If you want to apply for a green card, our Salinas immigration lawyer at Miranda, Magden & Miranda can help you navigate the process and will give you the best chance of success. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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