Do you know what a Green Card is and what is it for? How to get a Green Card? Is the Green Card a visa? This topic generates a lot of controversy and with this article we want to resolve your concerns and provide you with all the information you need in reference, guiding you in this important process to obtain permanent residence in the United States.
The Green Card is an identity document that certifies that a person is a lawful permanent resident in the United States (LPR, for its acronym in English). It’s known as a permanent residence card and possessing it’s of vital importance to be able to live and work legally in this country.
Among the information contained in the Green Card we have: Name of the holder, sex, date of birth, category by which it was obtained, the Alien Registration Number (fundamental digit for legal permanent residents) and expiration date.
To apply for the Green Card, the first thing you should do is consider whether you are eligible under one of these categories:
- Through family: Is either of your parents or your spouse American? In some cases, a family member can endorse you to obtain the Green Card.
- Through employment: In this category, the priority is people with exceptional ability in science, arts, education, business or sports, outstanding teachers and researchers, executives of multinational companies who meet certain requirements and investors.
- As a special immigrant: Applies if you are a religious worker, representative of international communications media or employee of an international organization.
- Through refugee or asylee status.
- As a victim of human trafficking and other crimes.
- Victims of abuse.
- By other categories.
- Through registration: Applies if you have resided in the United States continuously since before January 1, 1972.
Once you know that you are eligible for the Green Card, you must determine whether you will use adjustment of status or consular processing, depending on whether you are in or outside the United States. If you are inside, you must make the adjustment of status with USCIS and if you are outside of American territory, you will use consular processing with the US Department of State.
The steps to apply for the Green Card vary depending on your personal situation; however, these are the basic steps you must follow:
- As a general rule, someone files an immigrant petition on your behalf. It’s what is known as a sponsor.
- In some cases you can self-petition.
- When USCIS approves your immigrant petition and if a visa is available, it will submit the application for the Green Card to USCIS or the Department of State.
- You go to the biometric data collection appointment, to provide your fingerprints, a signature and photographs.
- You appear for the interview.
- You receive the decision on your application.
Permanent resident status has no expiration date. However, the Green Card must be renewed every 10 years, through USCIS. Failure to do so will cause problems for you to travel, work or carry out legal procedures.
What are the benefits of the Green Card?
Apart from granting you the right to live and work legally and permanently in the United States, it brings with it a series of benefits such as: It’s not necessary to reapply for a visa if you travel to the country of origin, you can request financing for studies, you have the right to receive a pension upon retirement (if you have worked for more than 10 years) and also, if you have been residing in the United States for 5 years or more with the Green Card, you can apply for American citizenship.
How much does it cost to renew the Green Card in 2021?
The renewal of the Green Card has a total cost of $540: $455 for submitting the application (Form I-90: Application to Replace the Permanent Resident Card) and $85 for the fingerprints.
How long does it take to renew the residence card?
The process of renewing your Green Card takes approximately 3 months from when you submit your I-90 application to the USCIS.
What type of visa is the Green Card?
The Green Card is not a visa. A visa is a document that allows you to travel to a US port of entry, airport, or border crossing and request permission to enter the United States.
What is the difference between Green Card and citizenship?
Being a permanent resident (Green Card) is a preliminary step for you to complete the Naturalization process and thus you can obtain American citizenship, with all the rights that the country grants to its citizens.
Green Card by Marriage USA
In the US, when a foreigner marries a US citizen or legal permanent resident, they obtain a residence permit, known as a Green Card by marriage, which is a valid process for heterosexual couples and same-sex couples, where they must prove that their relationship isn’t a fraud and that they didn’t marry to evade the immigration laws of the country, to enjoy all the benefits that come with being a legal permanent resident.
How to apply for the Green Card by marriage? Which are the requirements?
To start this process, it’s essential that the American citizen or permanent resident submit an application requesting the papers for their spouse to the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS, for its acronym in English).
The required documents vary according to the situation but generally include the following documents:
- Birth Certificate.
- Marriage Certificate.
- Proof of US citizenship or permanent residence of the sponsor.
- Financial documents.
- Passport-style photos.
- Proof of legal entry to the United States (if applicable).
- Criminal record certificate (if applicable).
- Documents of dissolution of previous marriages (if applicable).
- Police, judicial and prison records (if applicable).
- Military records (if applicable).
Process to get the Green Card by marriage
Obtaining the Green Card by marriage requires a 3-step procedure:
- Establish the marital relationship (Form I-130)
The first step in the marriage residency card process is to submit Form I-130, known as the “Alien Relative Petition” to USCIS, to establish that a valid marriage exists.
After being notified that your petition has been approved, the next step to take will depend on whether the spouse you are applying for the Green Card lives inside or outside the US.
- Apply for the green card (Form I-485 or DS-260)
To establish eligibility for the Green Card there are 2 different procedures, which the US Government uses:
- Spouse living in the US: Submit form I-485, known as the “Application for Adjustment of Status” to USCIS.
It’s important to note that for spouses of lawful permanent residents, form I-485 cannot be filed until the US Department of State determines that a green card is available in the visa bulletin.
- Spouse living abroad: Submit a DS-260 application package to the National Visa Center (NVC, for its acronym in English), which once all the documents have been received, determines if the spouse is ready for an interview at an embassy or consulate.
- Interview and approval
The location of the interview, as well as whether both spouses must attend, will depend on where the requesting spouse currently lives.
The main purpose is to evaluate the authenticity of the marriage, the questions they ask focus on the history of the relationship and future plans as a couple. If the officer is convinced that the marriage is authentic, the spouse is approved for a green card.
What happens after the Green Card by marriage is approved?
What happens depends on how long the marriage takes; counting from the date it was celebrated:
- If you have been married for less than 2 years: The spouse will receive a CR1 Conditional Green Card. Conditional green cards are valid for only 2 years.
- If you have been married for more than 2 years: The spouse will receive a Green Card IR1, which is valid for 10 years.
How much does it cost to obtain a Green Card by marriage?
It’s an expensive process. The processing has a minimum cost of $1.000, approximately, but in most cases you end up paying much more, depending on:
- If the procedure is for adjustment of status or consular process.
- If it’s necessary to request a pardon and of what kind.
- If a permanent or conditional residence card is obtained.
How long does it take to get the Green Card by marriage?
The period of time it takes to get a Green Card by marriage varies between 10 and 38 months.
What factors does it depend on? It depends on whether you are married to a US citizen or permanent resident, it also varies based on where you currently reside.
These are the typical deadlines for the marriage green card process:
- If your spouse is a US citizen and resides in US à 10-13 months.
- If your spouse is a US citizen and resides abroad à 11-17 months.
- If your spouse is a permanent resident and you live in US à 29-38 months.
- If your spouse is a permanent resident and you live abroad à 23-32 months.
Do you automatically get a Green Card when you marry a US citizen?
No, no foreign person automatically obtains a Green Card for marrying an American or legal permanent resident.
To activate this process, it’s essential to file the application with the USCIS.
Can you lose the Green Card if you get divorced?
If you obtained the Green Card by marriage and decide to divorce, it will represent a setback. There are 3 possibilities, which go according to when the process starts:
- If the divorce is effective before the approval of the Green Card arrives: You automatically lose the right to receive it.
- If the divorce occurs before the age of 2 (when you have the conditional Green Card): The couple must file a petition to lift the conditionality.
- If the divorce occurs when you already have the final Green Card: Divorce should not change your status, however, it may force you to wait longer to apply for Naturalization.
What happens if I’m denied the Green Card by marriage?
The actions to take depend on the reasons why you have been denied.
The solutions vary depending on the case, it may consist of submitting a new application, letting the time of a punishment pass, requesting and obtaining approval of a pardon or waiver (applies only for a cause of inadmissibility) or in other situations, you will not be able to do nothing.
At Tramites de Inmigracion USA Corp we can advise and support you so that this process is fluid and effective, without setbacks or loss of money. Our experienced team of professionals is at your entire disposal, so that you continue to advance with your dream of obtaining the citizenship!