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How To Get a Green Card in the United States

Do you want to know how to get a green card? If you want to become a United States Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), you will probably need someone to file a petition on your behalf. The government only grants LPR status to non-citizens who fall into certain specific categories:

  1. Family-Sponsored Preferences or non-citizens who are related to a US Citizen (USC) or an LPR;
  2. Employment Sponsored Preferences or non-citizens who immigrate through employment.

How to Get a Green Card: Family-Sponsored Preferences

Family-sponsored preference emphasizes certain relationships to a United States’ citizen or legal permanent resident. It also gives them preference over other petitions. If you are immediate relatives of a USC or LPR, that family member can subsequently file a petition for you. In addition, the government will issue your green card immediately once they approve your petition.

An immediate relative is defined as a spouse, unmarried child under 21, or parents of a US citizen (if the child is over 21).

If you are not an “immediate relative,” you can still petition, but the process takes longer for the following four relationships with a USC or Legal Permanent Resident:

  • 1st Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of USC
  • 2nd Preference: Spouses and children of LPR’s OR unmarried sons and daughters of LPR’s
  • 3rd Preference: Married sons and daughters of USC
  • 4th Preference: Brothers and sisters of over-21 USC

The wait time for your green card varies depending upon the preference and your country of origin. It also depends on whether your sponsor is a citizen or an LPR. Since the US allows every country an equal number of yearly immigrants, the wait times are long in countries where a lot of people want to immigrate to the US. If you don’t fall into any of these categories, you may still have the ability to obtain LPR status through one of the Employment Based Preferences.’

How to Get a Green Card: Employment-Based Preferences

1st Preference:

Priority workers (i.e., extraordinary ability in science, arts education, business or athletics, outstanding professors or researchers and multinational executives and managers). This preference is reserved for the truly exceptional, recognized experts in their field. This is the only employment-based preference that does not require a sponsor.

These next two categories require an employer apply on your behalf and receive a labor certification. For certification, the employer must prove there are not enough US workers for your job and that employing you will not hurt the wages or conditions of employment for US workers.

2nd Preference:

Members of professions holding advanced degrees, aliens of exceptional ability in science, arts or business.

3rd Preference:

Skilled workers, professionals and other workers. Requires an employer apply on your behalf and receive a labor certification. For certification, the employer must prove there are not enough US workers for your job and that employing you will not hurt the wages or conditions of employment for US workers.

These next two categories are narrow. However, since the quota for them is almost never exhausted, they can be a quick way to obtain your green card.

4th Preference:

Religious workers and long-term employees of the US government

5th Preference:

People who invest at least $1 million and employ at least 10 USC for at least 2 years

In the majority of cases, the government issues green cards to immigrants who are already in the country on non-immigrant visas. This process is known as “Adjustment of Status.” It allows you to stay in the US while the government processes your application for family sponsored or employment sponsored green card. Adjustment of Status also requires that you were inspected and admitted to the US. In addition, it requires that you didn’t overstay your non-immigrant visa by more than 180 days.

Confused About How to Get a Green Card or Becoming a Legal Permanent Resident? Let Our New Jersey Green Card Lawyers Guide You Through This Process

There are nuances to the process discussed above regarding how to get a green card that require elaboration. Immigration law can be complicated. Therefore, it is important to discuss your case with a New Jersey immigration attorney before you file any petitions. Should the government deny your petition, you could consequently face the possibility of removal proceedings.

Contact our Eatontown green card lawyers for a free consultation at 888-695-6169. Our New Jersey immigration attorneys are fluent in English and Spanish, as well as Hebrew.

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