Immigration and Nationality
Green Card Applications

Submitting a
green card application is actually the final step in what is a long road for many.  The first step is determining what immigrant classification is suitable in either the employment based or family based categories.  After this determination is made, and the appropriate immigrant petition has been filed with and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), one may apply for a green card if an immigrant visa is available.

Priority Date

Each month, the United States Department of State issues a
Visa Bulletin, which shows the visa availability for each classification.  Your place in this wait is based on your priority date, which is either the date your immigrant petition was filed with the USCIS or the date your labor certification (PERM) application was filed with the United States Department of Labor (DOL).  If your priority date is on or earlier than the date shown on the Visa Bulletin for your classification, you may apply for your green card.

Application Process

There are two ways in which you can apply for your
green card.  First is called adjustment of status, which means that you may submit your green card (I485) application with the USCIS while you are physically present in the United States.  With limited exceptions, an individual may submit an adjustment of status (AOS) application if he or she has maintained lawful immigration status and is physically present in the United States.

Because an AOS applicant is permitted to travel and work while his or her AOS application is pending, applications for a
travel document (advance parole) and for an employment authorization document (EAD) may be submitted at the same time as the I485 application.  If the AOS application is ultimately approved, the applicant will become a lawful permanent resident upon this decision and will be issued a green card.

The second option is applying for an
immigrant visa at a consular post.  This option requires the applicant to indicate on the immigrant petition that he or she intends to apply for an immigrant visa at a particular consular post.  When the immigrant petition is approved, the approved petition is transferred to the National Visa Center, which will notify the applicant of the steps that need to be taken.

Generally, the applicant will need to submit the
immigrant visa application fees, complete and submit to the National Visa Center the necessary immigrant visa application forms.  The National Visa Center conducts preliminary reviews and checks and will forward the visa application to the appropriate consular post.  The applicant will need to gather a number of supporting documents, which he or she will present to the consular officer at the designated interview appointment.  If the immigrant visa is granted, the applicant will enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident, and the USCIS will issue a green card to the applicant.

Conditional Lawful Permanent Residence

Please note that the
green card process is different for those who are seeking permanent residence based on marriage to a United States citizen or on an investment in a new enterprise that will create at least 10 jobs (EB5).  These individuals are granted conditional lawful permanent residence, and will need to submit a request to lift the conditional status 90 days before the end of the second anniversary of becoming a lawful permanent resident.

If you would like to discuss potential strategies for obtaining a green card, please contact us.
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