In the United States, a permanent resident is a person who’s been authorized to live and work here on a permanent basis. Permanent residents get what’s known as a green card, and it comes with several benefits that visas do not.
If you need to know how to become a permanent resident of the U.S., it’s probably a good idea to talk to an Austin immigration lawyer who can explain the process and help you file the right paperwork. In the meantime, this short guide explains how to get residency and what rights and responsibilities come with it.
How to Become a Permanent Resident of the U.S.
It can be tough to find immigration information on becoming a permanent resident of the U.S., so for most people, working with an attorney is the best solution. These are the steps you need to take:
- Determine whether you’re eligible for residency
- File an immigration petition
- Go to a biometrics appointment
- Participate in an interview
- Receive a decision on your application
Are You Eligible for Permanent Residency?
Not everyone is eligible to become a permanent resident. Generally, you must qualify for residency through:
- Family connections
- Special conditions
- Refugee or asylee status
(You can check out U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services eligibility categories here.)
Filing Your Immigration Petition
Your attorney can file an application with USCIS for you. You’ll have to provide supporting documents, which your lawyer can include with your application.
The Biometrics Appointment
If necessary, you’ll be asked to go to a biometrics appointment. Biometrics is data that identifies you, such as fingerprints, a photo and an electronic signature. You’ll need to bring your appointment notice (USCIS will mail it to you prior to your appointment), a photo ID, and any other notices you’ve received from USCIS that show you’re applying to become a permanent resident.
Your Immigration Interview
You’ll be scheduled for an immigration interview. During the interview, a USCIS officer will swear you in and check your ID. He or she will ask you questions that relate to the information you’ve provided on forms and ask to see the documents you’ve brought with you. You may be asked other questions about your background, as well.
Receiving a Decision
You might receive an immediate decision on your application, or the immigration official may need more information. The timeline varies, but you can check your case status online by entering your receipt number here.
Rights and Responsibilities of Permanent Residents
Permanent residency comes with certain rights and responsibilities, and if you want a green card, you must be willing to accept them.
Permanent Resident Rights
When you become a permanent resident of the U.S., you have the right to:
- Live in the U.S. permanently, unless you commit an action that makes you removable under immigration law.
- Work in the U.S. anywhere you’d like. You don’t need a special visa or an employer to sponsor you.
- Be protected by all U.S., state and local laws.
Permanent Resident Responsibilities
When you become a permanent resident, your responsibilities include:
- Obeying all U.S., state and local laws.
- Filing an income tax return and accurately reporting your income to the Internal Revenue Service, as well as state and local tax authorities.
- Supporting the democratic form of government.
- Registering with the Selective Service, if you’re a male between the ages of 18 and 25.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Becoming a Permanent Resident?
If you need help becoming a permanent resident of the U.S., call us at 512-371-9000 for a free immigration case review. We’ll answer your questions and, if you’re eligible, help you begin the permanent residency process.