The green card process, in most cases, is a complex and lengthy process. A green card is a Permanent Resident card that allows you to stay and work permanently in the United States. Even though the card’s color has changed several times since the beginning , the term green card is used because it was originally green in color.
There are many benefits of a green card.
There are several different ways to get a green card. Depending upon the route, the actual green card process may vary. Below, the ways a person may get a green card are listed:
- Sponsorship by an employer – That is employment based immigration.
- Sponsorship by a close family member in the U.S. – That is family based immigration.
- Investment by Alien Entrepreneur
- Diversity Lottery
- Immigration through Asylum or Refugee status
- Through “The Registry” provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act
Green Card Process Steps
Even though the actual steps in the green card process may vary, the following are the overall high level steps in the green card process.
- Immigrant Petition: Either an employer, relative, or in some cases the applicant files an immigration petition for the beneficiary. e.g., an I-140 is filed for employment based immigration while an I-130 is filed for family based immigration.
- Immigrant Visa Availability: Since there are quotas and restrictions in most categories, a person is not immediately able to get a green card after the immigrant petition is completed. After the immigrant petition is approved, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC).
- Adjudication: Once the immigrant visa number is available and the priority date is current, the person can adjust their status to permanent resident if he/she is already in the U.S. or if the person is outside the U.S., he/she can apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. embassy/consulate that has the jurisdiction over their residence.
Depending upon the actual route taken, the green card process may involve extra steps. Please look at the description of each type of green card process for more accurate information.
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Process After the Green Card
After the person has received a green card, there are many restrictions and obligations. If they are not fulfilled, the person may lose their green card status and may even be deported from the U.S.
You must take precautions to retain your green card. A green card is for permanently living in the U.S. If you are planning to stay outside the U.S. for a long time, you must first apply for a Re-Entry Permit.