The Economic Times
English EditionEnglish Editionहिन्दी
| E-Paper
Search
+

    Green Card: Who is eligible and how to apply

    Synopsis

    US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a Green Card to all permanent residents as proof that they are authorized to live and work in the United States. If you are a permanent resident, you are required to have a valid Green Card in your possession at all times.

    iStock
    Illustration of a green card
    A Green Card, officially referred to as a Permanent Resident Card, is an identity document which shows that a person has permanent residency in the United States. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a Green Card to all permanent residents as proof that they are authorized to live and work in the United States. If you are a permanent resident, you are required to have a valid Green Card in your possession at all times.

    You can become a permanent resident in several different ways. To apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories mentioned below:

    1. Green Card through Family
    If you are a relative of a US citizen, you can apply for lawful permanent resident status while you are in the United States. This category includes immediate relatives, fiancé, widower and victim of cruelty of a US citizen.

    2. Green Card through Employment
    You are eligible under this category if you are an immigrant worker with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; You are a physician who agrees to work full-time in clinical practice for a set period; An immigrant investor who has invested or is actively investing at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise in the US which will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees.

    3. Green Card as a Special Immigrant
    This category includes a religious worker who is a member of a religious denomination and came to US to work for a nonprofit religious organization; A juvenile who needs protection of a juvenile court because of abuse/ neglect by a parent; Afghan or Iraq national who has worked under US government; An international broadcaster who has come to work in the US as a member of the media for the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) or a USAGM grantee; An employee of an international organization or family member or NATO-6 employee or family member.

    4. Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
    You may be eligible to apply for a Green Card as an asylee if you were granted asylum status at least 1 year ago and as a refugee if you were admitted as a refugee at least 1 year ago in the US.

    5. Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
    You may be eligible if you are a victim of human trafficking and currently have a T nonimmigrant visa or if you are a crime victim who currently has a U nonimmigrant visa.

    6. Green Card for Victims of Abuse
    You may be eligible to apply as a VAWA self-petitioner– victim of battery or extreme cruelty if you are the abused parent, spouse or child of a US Citizen; You are an abused spouse or child of a Cuban native or citizen; You are an abused spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident who received his or her Green Card based on HRIFA (Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act).

    7. Green Card through Other Categories
    You are eligible to apply for Green Card under this category if you are a Liberian national who has been continuously physically present in the US since Nov 20, 2014; Were selected for a diversity visa in the Department of State’s diversity visa lottery; A Cuban native or citizen; American Indian born in Canada; Person born in the United States to a foreign diplomat; Were stationed in the United States as a foreign diplomat or high ranking official and are unable to return home.

    8. Green Card through Registry
    When a person has lived continuously in the US since before Jan 1, 1972, s/he is eligible to apply for a Green Card.

    How to apply for a Green Card

    Inside and outside process: If you are eligible to apply for a Green Card in any of the above-mentioned categories, then the first thing you need to check is which process to choose. There is 'adjustment of status' which needs to be done by residing in the US itself and there is 'consular processing' which is for candidates who live outside of the US.

    Immigrant petition: Someone has to file an immigrant petition for you which is often called sponsoring. In some cases, you can do it on your own depending on your eligibility.

    Green Card application with USCIS: Once USCIS approves your immigrant petition and there is a visa available in your category, you will need to either file a visa application with the US Department of State or a Green Card application with USCIS. You will need to file Form I-485, including all supporting documents and fees.

    Biometrics appointment: You will then need to attend your biometric appointment to provide your fingerprints, photos, and a signature.

    Interview: USCIS will then review your application and schedule an interview with you.

    Decision: Finally, you will get the result. And once the Green Card is issued, it is valid for 10 years.
    The Economic Times