When you want to become a permanent resident of the United States, you’ll have to apply for a green card. Green cards are only available to people who meet certain criteria, including those who have immediate family in the U.S., those who have a job lined up, and those who fit into “special immigrant” categories. They’re also available to refugees and asylees, trafficking and crime victims, and victims of abuse through humanitarian programs.
How to Get Your Green Card in the U.S.
Before you can apply for a green card in the U.S., you must meet eligibility requirements. Outside of humanitarian programs, you have to fit into a category outlined by the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA. Many people choose to work with an Austin immigration attorney to make the process simpler – that way, they don’t have to worry about which forms to file, how to fill them out, or where to file them; the attorney handles all of that.
What About Visas?
You must be legally allowed to be present in the United States before you can apply for a green card. Typically, that means you must have an immigrant visa. Immigrant visas are available for:
- Fiancés and spouses of American citizens
- Adopted children of U.S. citizens
- Some family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (other green card holders)
- People who are coming to the U.S. with the express purpose of working, and who are sponsored by an employer or who are investing in a U.S. company that will create jobs for American workers
- Iraqis and Afghans who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government
- Religious workers
If you are in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you must usually change your status or apply for a different type of visa before you can apply for a green card. Your attorney can give you specifics on what to do in your situation, because every case is different.
What Happens After You Apply for a Green Card?
After you apply for a green card, you’ll have to appear for a biometrics appointment. At your biometrics appointment, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will take your photo, get your fingerprints, and obtain your signature for identification purposes. You’ll have to bring the appointment notice from USCIS, your photo ID and receipts for any documents the USCIS is processing for you to your appointment. You’ll also have to pay the biometric services fee at the time of your appointment.
You’ll also have to attend an interview with a USCIS immigration officer. The officer will ask you questions about your application and your background, and you’ll have to take an English and civics test (unless you qualify for a waiver). The officer will ask you up to 10 questions about the U.S. government and the country’s processes, and you must answer at least six of them correctly. (You can check out a practice test here.)
You’ll receive a written notice of a decision after your interview.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Getting a Green Card in the U.S.?
Many people choose to work with an Austin immigration attorney to get a green card in the U.S. We may be able to help you through the process. Schedule your free consultation today.
About Nanthaveth & Associates:
Nanthaveth & Associates, PLLC is a trusted immigration law firm located in Austin, Texas. Immigration law experts at Nanthaveth and Associates are prepared to provide legal counsel for businesses, families and individuals in the areas of green cards, deportation, adjustment of status, work visas and investor visa applications, family-sponsored immigration, employer compliance, self-petitions, permanent residence, naturalization, waivers, appeals, foreign adoptions, mediation and more.
For Austin, TX immigration help call Nanthaveth & Associates at 512.371.9000.