For many immigrants, receiving a green card is the culmination of patience, challenging work, lots of paperwork and arduous immigration proceedings. Having a green card is different from being a U.S. citizen. However, it is a happy time for the green card recipient, leaving others wondering how they, too, can get theirs.
What is a green card?
A green card is a permanent residency card that lets you live and work in the United States. Only some people are eligible for a green card, which is the most challenging part for many to understand.
If you are found eligible for a green card, you must petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition does not guarantee that they will grant you a green card. It is simply a request before an immigration court.
In your petition for a green card, you must include evidence of your eligibility and extensive information about your background and identity, particularly whether you have a criminal record, have been in the United States unlawfully, and other vital factors that USCIS considers in making its determination.
USCIS will ask you to provide a copy of your fingerprints and a photo of yourself to verify your identity. In addition, you will receive an interview request from a USCIS officer.
If USCIS approves your green card, a USCIS officer will notify you and ask you to apply to register your permanent residence. In some cases, if you are lawfully in the United States at the time of this petition, your status will be “adjusted,” meaning it will go from whatever your classification was before to a permanent resident.
If your application is denied you can appeal the decision or apply again at a later date.
Applying for a green card can be challenging and time-consuming for non-citizens, but it is the beginning of a new life for many.