Getting residence in another country can be one of the most confusing legal processes out there. The legalese, the various government offices, sites, and applications, it can all be difficult to navigate. To that end, we wanted to offer a streamlined, simplified overview of the process. This isn’t the definitive blog on the topic, but it should be enough to shed some light on the labyrinth of the Green Card process.


Determining Eligibility


There are a number of different ways for a person to eligible for a Green Card:

· Family-

o Are you the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen? If you are the spouse, son or daughter, brother or sister, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen you may be eligible. There are a number of other possibilities that fall under this umbrella. The family Green Card is one the most common

· Employment-

o If you are an immigrant worker with skills in science, art, education, business, athletics, or professor or researcher, possessing a degree

o You are a physician dedicated to working in a designated, underserved area for a set time

· Refugee or Asylee Status-

o Were granted asylum or admitted as a refugee at least one year ago

· Special Immigrant-

o A religious worker for a nonprofit religious organization

o A Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ), a child who has been abandoned, abused, or neglected

o Afghanistan or Iraq national who served as a translator for the U.S. government

· Victim of Human Trafficking and Crime-

o Currently have a T/U nonimmigrant visa

· Victim of Abuse-

o An abused spouse or child of a Cuban native/citizen

o Abused spouse/parent of a U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident

· Registry-

o If you have resided continuously in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972

· Other Categories-

o A wide range of possible circumstances can make you eligible under the ‘Other Categories’ marker check

File Application


Once you have determined your eligibility for Lawful Permanent Residence/Green Card status, it’s time to file either the respective United States Citizenship and Immigration form with supporting documentation: Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker and/or Form I-485 – Application Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. There may also be a need for labor certification as a prerequisite to filing your Form I-140 Petition for Immigration Worker.


· To fill out the application you will want to either print legibly or type in black in. Answer all questions accurately, and fully.
· If you need further room, utilize the space provided in Part 14 Additional Information. Be sure to include the Page, Part, and Item Number for which the additional answers refer to.


Submit your paperwork and fees. Depending on your age and eligibility the amount you pay for the filing. For Form I-485 alone It can range from $0 to $1225. The USCIS will then review your application, scheduling an interview with you, as well as a biometric scanning if necessary. There you’ll be fingerprinted (called biometrics), have your picture and signatures taken.




Not everyone receives an interview, but if for whatever reason the USCIS has further questions to answer you will receive a notice. Be sure to attend this interview! In certain circumstances, the family member who filed the Green Card petition might also be asked to attend the interview.


Wait for the Decision


The USCIS will review and then determine your status. If they accept your application your Green Card will be issued. Once issued, the Green Card will be valid for 10 years, at which time you will need to renew. There are some circumstances such as obtaining a Green Card based on a marriage to a United States Citizen where you may receive a Conditional Green Card where the condition must be removed after two years before you receive a full 10 year valid Green Card.


For more info on the process, USCIS has published instructions which provide further instructions for each type of eligible candidate as well as what other documents need to be provided. It is very important to reach out to an attorney or a licensed professional to guide you through the process and highlight any prerequisites which may pertain to your specific case.


Win the Lottery


Another way to get an immigrant visa is to win The United States’ Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV). The program allows for up to 50,000 visas to be awarded every year to foreign nationals of countries with low rates of immigration. The lottery is open once a year, for about 5 weeks in the fall. Learn more at the State Department’s DV lottery site. Make sure you do far in advance! The online registration for the 2019 DV Lottery ended back in November of 2017!


Please note!: This is a very basic overview of what goes into getting a Green Card. There are further nuances for each step of course, and rarely does anything go perfectly smoothly, but hopefully, this information helps you to see that the process is not impossible. Take your time, apply early, and be as thorough as you can and you will be well on your way to attaining your Green Card! Have any questions? Reach out to us or contact us, we are here to help!


The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from this answer, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the answer without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed attorney. Provision of information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Apfel and Associates, P.C. nor is it intended to do so.