Receiving a green card is the first step for thousands of immigrants on their path to becoming U.S. citizens. Having a green card allows someone to live and work lawfully in the U.S. before qualifying for citizenship. That’s why it’s crucial not to make a mistake when completing the green card application. However, people aren’t perfect, and until recently, that could have potentially cost someone their chance at getting a green card.
Who is Eligible for a Green Card?
Before even applying for a green card, it’s important to know who can apply for one. To qualify for a green card, a person must fall into at least one of the following categories including:
- An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen: this means if your spouse is a U.S. citizen, your parent is a U.S. citizen, you are a parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old, are the step-child or step-parent of a U.S. citizen and the marriage creating that relationship took place before the child turned 18 years old, or you adopted a child who is a U.S. citizen, and the adoption took place before the child turned 16 years old.
- Other family members of a U.S. citizen: this category has a limited number of green cards that are given out each year as individuals who fall in this category do not have a direct family member who is a U.S. citizen but does have extended family who is.
- Preferred employees and workers: these individuals usually already have a job offer in the U.S. There are also a limited number of green cards available for those in this category each year and the preference is typically broken down by the following subcategories:
- Employment First Preference - priority workers
- Employment Second Preference - professionals with exceptional ability or advanced degrees
- Employment Third Preference - professional skilled or unskilled workers
- Employment Fourth Preference - Miscellaneous other workers
- Employment Fifth Preference - Investors who will put $1 million into a U.S. business or $500,000 if the location is in an economically disadvantaged area. The business must have at least ten employees.
- Refugee/Asylum: Those living in fear of persecution or threats in their country of origin.
What is the Green Card Application Process?
If you determine you’re eligible for a green card, the next step is to fill out an application. There are multiple types of applications that individuals can fill out. It is best to make sure you are filling out the correct application before beginning this process.
Once you’ve filled out the correct application, you submit it and wait. It usually takes several months for an application to be processed completely, but for some, it could take years.
What to Watch Out for When Filling Out a Green Card Application
When completing a green card application, it’s essential to do your best not to make any mistakes. Initially, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would issue a warning such as a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) to applicants if they were missing information, made a mistake, or did not have the correct paperwork.
But in 2018, USCIS was told they could more easily deny someone’s application by not having to issue a RFE or NOID. By denying someone, that person could feel defeated and not apply again, or if they chose to apply again, they would have to wait even longer to find out a decision.
However, in 2021, USCIS was told to go back to issuing a RFE or NOID should there be missing or incorrect information on the application.
Avoid Making Mistakes on a Green Card Application
Don’t feel like you have to file your green card application on your own. At Murray Osorio PLLC we are here to help you through the immigration process. Our diverse and experienced team helps individuals across the nation and we’re here for you too. Reach out to our team today at (240) 202-1566.