You are currently viewing How to get a Green Card

If you are thinking of emigrating to the United States, you will need to know how to get a Green Card, known as the Permanent Resident Card.

The New Jersey immigration attorneys at Curbelo Law will be able to help you obtain this residence permit so that you can get to work and live in the U. S. With over 10 years of experience serving immigrants, we are prepared to be your legal support.

How Can You Get A Green Card In 2023

In order to get the Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the eligibility categories that best suits your current situation. These categories are the following:

Through Family

  • Immediate relative of an American citizen. Among these are:
    • The spouse of the American citizen.
    • The unmarried child under the age of 21 of the American citizen.
    • The father of an American citizen over the age of 21.
  • Other members of an American citizen or legal permanent resident under the preferential categories of family.
    • Unmarried child of a U. S. citizen who is 21 years old or older.
    • Married child of an American citizen.
    • Brother or sister of the American citizen who is at least 21 years old.

You can learn more about the process to obtain American citizenship.

  • Family members of a legal permanent resident:
    • The spouse.
    • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of the lawful permanent resident.
    • Unmarried child over the age of 21 of the lawful permanent resident.
u. s family based immigration

In our section on U. S. family-based immigration you find extensive information on the subject. You can also read specific articles for the petition of different family members.

  • Fiancé of an American citizen or the son of the fiancé
    • Person admitted to the United States as a fiancé (e) of a United States citizen through the K-1 fiancé (e) visa.
    • Person admitted to the United States as a child of the United States citizen through the K-2 visa.
  • Widower or widow of an American citizen who was married at the time of death
  • VAWA applicants who are victims of abuse or cruelty
    • Spouses abused by an American citizen or by a lawful permanent resident.
    • The abused children (unmarried or under 21 years old) of the United States citizen or legal permanent resident. 
    • Abused parent by a U. S. citizen.

In our article focused on the VAWA visa you will be able to find all the necessary information on this subject.

how to get permanent residency and a green card in the usa

Through A Job

You can get a Green Card through a job, as long as it belongs to the first, second or third category of preference. These categories are:

First Category Of Preference (EB-1)

  • You have extraordinary abilities in the arts, education, sports, science, or business.
  • Outstanding researcher or professor.
  • Manager or executive of a multinational company.

Second Preference Category (EB-2)

  • Advanced professionals of a profession that require a postgraduate degree. 
  • Possess extraordinary abilities in science, business, or the arts.
  • You want an exemption for national reasons.

Third Preference Category (EB-3)

  • Skilled workers, a minimum of 2 years of work experience is required.
  • Professionals with American baccalaureate degrees or their equivalent in the foreign country. 
  • Unskilled workers, require at least 2 years of work experience.

Doctors With National Interest

You are a medical professional who agrees to work full time at a designated clinic.

Immigrant Investor 

Immigrant investors under an EB-5 visa who have invested or are in the process of investing at least $ 1 million or $ 500,000 in a job or business start-up in the United States.

Green Card For Special Immigrants

green card permanent resident card

Religious Workers.

Religious workers under a Type R visa who enter to the United States may work as a religious worker as long as it is non-profit type work.

Juvenile Special Immigrants

Minors who need some protection from the court since they have been abused, abandoned or are victims of neglect by one or both of their parents.

You can learn more about this in our specialized article on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Afghan Or Iraqi Nationalized

  • That worked as an Iraqi or Afghan translator for the United States government.
  • Was an Afghan employed by the International Security Assistance Force; ISAF.
  • Was employed by the United States government in Iraq after March 20, 2003 for at least one year.

A Representative Of Some International Media

You will be able to work in the United States as a member of or as a beneficiary of the US Agency for Global Media.

  • Employees of an international organization, NATO employees or their family members.
    • If you are a retired civil servant or you are in an international NATO organization, you may be eligible.

Green Card For Asylum Or Refuge 

  • For asylum: In case you were granted political asylum for at least 1 year.
  • By refuge: In case of being admitted as a refugee for at least 1 year.

Remember to visit our article on how to apply for the asylum process in the United States.

Victims Of Human Trafficking And Other Similar Crimes

  • If you are a victim of human trafficking, you can apply for a T Visa.
  • If you are a victim of other crimes you can apply for a U Visa.
human trafficking and migrant smuggling

Find out what human trafficking and migrant smuggling is in a detailed article on our website. If you are involved in a similar situation or have suffered this type of abuse and crime, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Victims Of Abuse

  • VAWA applicants who have been victims of extreme cruelty or abuse of some kind.
    • Spouses abused by an American citizen or legal permanent resident.
    • Abused children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of a US citizen or legal permanent resident.
    • Abused parent of an American citizen. 
  • Juvenile special immigrants
    • Minors who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their father or mother and possessed of SIJS status; Special immigrant juvenile status.
  • Abused spouses and children.
    • If the spouse or child are abused or victims of extreme cruelty, they can apply for a Green Card under the Cuban adjustment law.
  • Spouse and child abused under HRIFA
    • Abused children or spouses by a lawful permanent resident who received HRIFA-based status.

Through Other Categories

Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF)

  • If you are a naturalized Liberian who has been physically in the United States since November 20, 2014.
  • Either the spouse, unmarried child under or over 21 years of age of a naturalized Liberian.

The Diversity Visa Program

  • If you were selected by the State Department visa lottery to obtain a diversity visa.

Through The Cuban Adjustment Act

  • If you are a Cuban citizen.
  • If you are the spouse or child of a Cuban citizen. 

Spouse Or Child Abused For Cruelty Under Cuban Adjustment Law

If the spouse or child of a Cuban citizen is abused.

Dependent On Status Under The Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act(HRIFA)

Spouses or children of a legal permanent resident who received the Green Card thanks to the HRIFA law.

Spouses Or Children Abused Under The HRIFA

Abused spouses or children of a legal permanent resident who have received their Green Card thanks to HRIFA.

With A Lautenberg Entry Permit 

If you obtain a permit to enter the United States with a Parolee lautenberg permit. 

Under The Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act Of 2000

If you are a citizen of Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia and your permit to enter the United States was granted on October 1, 1997 under the Orderly Departure Program, a UNHCR-run displaced persons camp in Thailand or a refugee camp in East Asia. 

American Indians Born In Canada

If you were born in Canada and have at least 50% Indian American blood. 

Persons Born In The United States Who Are Foreign Diplomatic Children 

The son or daughter of an official who was born in the United States while his or her father was within the country.

Diplomatic Section 13

  • Those who were stationed in the US as diplomats, officers, or high-ranking foreigners and cannot return home. 
  • Spouses and their qualified diplomatic relatives under section 13 may also submit an application. 

Through A Registry

  • If you have been in the United States continuously since before January 1, 1972, you will be eligible to register a Green Card.

Through A Sponsor Or Employer petitioning A Green Card For You

Knowing how to get the Green Card also implies knowledge of the required documentation. The vast majority of applicants for a Permanent Resident Card must complete at least two forms:

  • The immigrant petition.
  • The application for the permanent resident card (Form I-485).

Additionally, someone must file the petition on your behalf, this person is known as a sponsor or an employer requesting it for you.

Although you can apply for the Green Card on your own, it is also possible that they request it, the necessary forms will be:

Other requests include the following additional forms:

How To Get The Green Card With An Adjustment Of Status Or Consular Process

If you are eligible to apply for a Green Card, you will need to determine how and if you will be able to get the Green Card through adjustment of status in the United States or through a consular process at a U. S. embassy or consulate if you are in a foreign country.

permanent residency in the united states
  • If you are in the US, you can apply for adjustment of status with USCIS.
    • If you have an approved immigrant petition and a visa is available, you will need to file Form I-485.
    • If you do not have an approved application, you will need to verify eligibility to determine if you will be able to file a petition with Form I-485 at the same time.
  • If you are outside the United States, you will need to go through consular processing with the United States Department of State.

What Is The Process To Apply For The Green Card?

The steps to apply for a Green Card vary individually depending on the person requesting it, normally the general application process is:

  1. Someone submits the Green Card application on your behalf. *
    • In some cases, you can ask for it yourself (self petitioner).
  2. After USCIS approves the immigrant petition, you will need to file an application for the Permanent Resident Card with USCIS or the U. S. Department of State.
  3. Attend an appointment in person where your biometric data, fingerprints, photographs and your signature will be taken.
  4. Go to assigned interviews.
  5. Wait to receive the decision of the application.

In the event that you applied with Form I-485 and your case is still pending with the USCIS, you should contact the USCIS to obtain more information about your case and verify its status.

It is possible that in some cases you will need to update your address and / or make new appointments with the USCIS.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Green Card?

The time it takes to obtain a US Green Card depends on the type of category you applied for. These times are:

Time Frame For A Marriage-based Green Card

The term to obtain the marriage Green Card is usually between 10 and 30 months, depending on whether you are married to an American citizen or a legal permanent resident.

These deadlines are:

  • If your spouse is a US citizen and you live in the US, the estimated time will be between 10 and 13 months.
    • If you live abroad, the waiting time will be between 11 and 17 months.
  • If your spouse is the Green Card holder and lives in the US, the waiting time will be between 29 and 38 months.
    • If you are abroad, your estimated time will be 23 to 32 months.

You may be interested in checking the common questions you may face in a marriage based residency interview on our specialized article.

Spouses Applying For A Green Card Within The US And Are Married To A US Citizen

  • Spouses applying for a Green Card must submit Form I-130 and Form I-485, this process usually takes approximately 9 to 11 months.
  • The interview and approval time is usually 1 to 2 months.
  • The estimated term varies between 10 and 13 months.

Spouses Applying For A Green Card Within The US And Are Married To A Lawful Permanent Resident

  • Filing Form I-130 typically takes 11-15 months.
  • Wait for the availability of the green card, it usually takes between 8 to 10 months.
  • Applying for the green card through Form I-485, usually takes 9 to 11 months.
  • The interview and approval takes 1 to 2 months.
  • The estimated term is 29 to 38 months.

The Green Card Applicant Lives Abroad And Is Married To A US Citizen

  • Getting a response by filing Form I-130 usually takes 7-10 months.
  • Applying for a Green Card from the NVC usually takes between 3 and 5 months.
  • The interview and their respective approvals in a period of 1 or 2 months.
  • The total term is usually between 11 and 17 months.

The Green Card Applicant Lives Abroad And Is Married To A Green Card Holder

  • Form I-130 takes between 11 and 15 months.
  • The wait for Green Card availability takes between 8 to 10 months.
  • The NVC application takes between 3 to 5 months.
  • The interview and your approvals last between 1 to 2 months.
  • The estimated term is 27 to 46 months.

How To Track A Green Card?

You will be able to track a Green Card without any problem, for this you will have to:

  1. Register and create an account to follow the status of your case online, after that, you can automatically receive updates on how your case is going, in addition to the tracking number of the United States Postal Service (USPS).
  2. When your Green Card is sent to you, you will be notified and can follow up anytime you want just by logging on to the website.
  • You will also be able to sign up for USPS Informed Delivery to receive daily images of how the shipping process is going, as well as:
    • Checking an automatic tracking of all expected packages.
    • Configure email and / or text message alerts.
    • Correctly enter the delivery instructions from the USPS.
  • In the event that the USPS tracking information shows that the package was delivered but you never received it, you will need to contact your local post office immediately.
  • You must remember that the Permanent Resident Card will be mailed to you at the address previously indicated in the application.
    • Unless you have specified on Form G-28 that the Green Card will be mailed to your authorized representative or attorney. 
    • In the event that your mailing address changes after applying, you will need to update your address with the USCIS and USPS immediately.
  • If you do not update your address as a matter of urgency, your request could be delayed and your documents could be lost, plus you will have to apply and pay for this process again from the beginning. 

Summary Of How To Get The Green Card Fast And Easy

You can get the Green Card if you follow the corresponding steps indicated below:

  1. Eligibility: First thing is to determine if you are eligible to obtain permanent residence, otherwise you could be considered inadmissible.
  2. Through adjustment of status or consular process: You can apply for a Green Card through:
    1. An adjustment of status if you are in the U.S.
    2. Consular processing if you are outside the US.
  3. Joint filing: In case you apply for a Green Card through a job, family or because you are a special immigrant, it is necessary for someone to make this process on your behalf. The joint filing is usually an immigrant application that is filed at the same time as a Green Card.
  4. Visa availability: Generally there must be a number of visas available before you apply for permanent residence, otherwise you will enter a waiting list which can take a considerable time.
  5. Travel documentation: After the application for the permanent residence card; or when you have it, you can apply for an advance travel permit or a re-entry permit. 
  6. An employment authorization: You will be able to find out if you are eligible for an employment authorization in the United States and you will be able to apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  7. Have a medical examination: The vast majority of applications to be a legal permanent resident require that you perform a medical examination, said examination must be submitted along with the forms established by the USCIS. 
  8. Affidavit of Financial Sponsorship: The Affidavit of Financial Sponsorship is the form that a sponsor submits on your behalf once they apply for the permanent card. This declaration is required for immigrant categories (but not all) to obtain permanent residency. This declaration is to determine if you have the financial means to live in the United States without the assistance or benefits of the United States government.
  9. Child Status Protection Act (CSPA): Your age can determine if you are eligible to obtain a Green Card, if you are a minor, you may be under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), which allows certain minor children of age to be eligible for a Green Card.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to get a Green Card

In this section you will find additional information on how to get the Green Card. It contains some of the most frequent questions and topics that we usually receive in the office. Remember this is general information only. To help you in your specific case, contact the office of the Latina attorney Carolina T. Curbelo.

Can My Green Card Be Denied?

Your request to obtain a Green Card may be denied, as long as USCIS determines that someone:

  • Lied or submitted falsified documents.
  • Has a criminal record.
  • There are flaws in the validation of the marriage.
  • There are certain medical problems.
  • The Green Card application was sent with errors in the package. 
  • Did not qualify to apply for a Green Card.
  • Lacks sufficient financial resources.
  • Was inside the United States illegally.
how can an illegal immigrant become legal in the U. S.

Yoy may be interested in reading our topic “How can an illegal immigrant become legal in the U. S.” to get more information on becoming legal in the country.

Can I Renew My Green Card?

You can renew your Green Card every 10 years with the USCIS, if you don’t, it may have consequences when traveling, working or doing paperwork.

To renew the Green Card, you will simply have to apply for Form I-90, Application to replace the permanent resident card.

How Much Does It Cost To Renew My Green Card?

The price it costs to renew a Green Card is about $455 to request it and $85 to obtain biometrics.

The cases of juvenile immigrants with a T visa or a U visa can become exempt from paying fees.

When To Replace A Green Card?

You can replace a Green Card as long as:

  • It is stolen, lost or destroyed.
  • It contains some kind of error (date, name, spelling and so on).
  • The name is modified or changed.
  • You never received your card.
  • Your immigrant status changed to permanent resident.
  • You became permanent resident before the age of 14.

How To Participate In The Green Card Lottery?

Each year the U. S. government draws approximately 50,000 immigrant visas, these give the right to a Green Card for the people who win the visa lottery.

  • The spouse and their children under the age of 21 will also be able to win.
  • This lottery applies every fiscal year and citizens of countries with high amounts of immigration to the United States are prohibited from participating.

To participate in the lottery, you will simply need to fill out the online application form.

Latino Lawyers To Obtain Or Renew Your Green Card

You already have extensive information on how to get a Green Card. If you are now looking for Latino attorneys to obtain or renew your Green Card, you can contact us for personalized legal advice.

At Curbelo Law, our expert immigration attorneys will be able to help you and resolve any issue or case that you want to solve urgently. 

We have more than 10 years of experience helping Latino immigrants to become permanent legal residents in the United States. Call us today for advice on your case.