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If you have the opportunity to obtain the Green Card, this will allow you to live in the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Additionally, after several years, you could qualify for the process to get U. S. citizenship.

In this blog you will learn what the Green Card is and how it is obtained, regardless of whether you are from Spain, Mexico, Venezuela or another country. However, for a more personalized consultation, we recommend contacting us.

How To Get The Green Card In 2024

If you want to get a Green Card, you should know that the process can be complicated. Additionally, obtaining one varies greatly depending on the category in which you are applying for lawful permanent residence. That said, here’s an overview of the process:

green card permanent resident card

1# Determine Your Eligibility

You must fit into one of the categories listed by USCIS. Some of these are:

2# Submit The Application

In most categories, a qualified family member or employer must first file an application with USCIS on your behalf. For example:

  • For family-based categories, the sponsor must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
  • For the employment category, the sponsor must submit Form I-140, Petition for Foreign Worker.

It is worth noting that some categories allow you to file the petition yourself. For more information on this, we invite you to first contact our New Jersey immigration lawyers.

3# Wait For A Decision On Your Application

USCIS will notify you of its decision. If it is denied, they will provide you with the reasons for this. It should be noted that it is possible to appeal an immigration case in certain circumstances. But to do this, you will require the help of a good lawyer.

4# Wait For A Visa Number

If your petition is approved and you are outside the United States, you will need to wait for a visa number to become available. The U. S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin provides updates on the availability of these types of American visas.

5# Attend The Consular Interview (If Necessary)

If you are outside the United States, you must go through consular processing. To do this, you have to attend an interview at a U. S. embassy or consulate in your country. 

6# Pay The USCIS Immigration Fee

Before you travel to the United States, you will need to pay the USCIS immigrant fee. However, you may not have to pay it if you meet any of the following exemptions: 

  • You are a nonimmigrant under category K. For example, you have the K-1 fiancé(e) visa.
  • A child who has entered the United States under the orphan program or the Hague adoption program.
  • You are a lawful permanent resident returning to the country (SB-1s).
  • You are an Iraqi or Afghan special immigrant.

7# Receive Your Green Card

If you are outside the U. S, you will receive your Green Card after arriving in the country. On the other hand, if you are already here, you will need to apply for adjustment of status. Upon approval, you will receive the Green Card.

These are the general steps on how to get the Green Card. However, below we will show you in more detail how one is rated.

What Qualifies An individual For A Green Card?

There are 8 categories in which an immigrant can qualify to obtain a Green Card:

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

Through Family

You may be eligible as:

  • Immediate family member of an American citizen:
    • Spouse.
    • Single children under 21 years of age.
    • Parents of the American citizen over 21 years of age.
  • Other relatives of a U. S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the preferred family categories:
    • Unmarried children of an American citizen 21 years of age or older.
    • Married children of an American citizen.
    • Siblings of the American citizen who is at least 21 years old.
  • Relatives of a lawful permanent resident:
    • Spouse.
    • Single children over 21 years of age.
    • Single children under 21 years of age.
  • Fiancé(e) of an American citizen or the fiancé’s child:
    • Fiancé(e) with K-1 visa.
    • Children of the fiancé(e) with a K-2 visa.
  • Widower or widow of an American citizen who was married at the time of death. 
  • VAWA Applicants victims of abuse or cruelty
    • Spouses abused by a U. S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
    • Abused children (whether unmarried or under 21 years of age) of a U. S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. 
    • Parents abused by an American citizen.
vawa visa

If you are a victim of violence in this country, you may be eligible for VAWA visa or even asylum based on domestic violence. These issues require legal representation from a good attorney so do not hesitate to contact us.

Through A Job

You can get the Green Card if you belong to the first, second or third category of work preference: 

First Preference Category (EB-1)

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

Second Preference Category (EB-2)

  • Advanced professionals in 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 in a designated clinic.

Immigrant Investor 

Immigrant investors under the EB-5 program who have invested or are in the process of investing $1,050,000 in a new business enterprise in the U.S. This enterprise must create full-time jobs for at least 10 qualified employees. 

It should be noted that some specific projects or jobs only require an investment of $800,000.

Green Card For Special Immigrants

permanent residency in the united states

Religious Workers

Religious workers under a type R visa who go to the United States will be able to work in this area. However, the work to be done must be non-profit.

Juvenile Special Immigrants

For immigrant minors who need some protection, since they have been: 

  • Abused, 
  • Abandoned, or
  • They are victims of negligence by one or both of their parents.
unaccompanied immigrant minors

Unaccompanied immigrant minors have several immigration reliefs that protect them against deportation.

Nationalized Afghan Or Iraqi

  • 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 a year.

Is A Representative Of Some International Media

Coming to work in the U. S. as:

  • Part of the media for the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM), or
  • Recipient of a USAGM grant.

Employees Of An International Organization, NATO Employees Or Their Family Members.

If you are a retired civil servant or are in a NATO international organization you may be eligible. Likewise, family members of said employee could also qualify.

Green Card For Asylee Or Refugee 

You can obtain a Green Card after 1 year of obtaining asylum or refuge.

Victims Of Human Trafficking And Other Similar Crimes

If you are a victim of human trafficking you can apply for a T visa. On the other hand, if you are a victim of other crimes, then you can apply for a U visa.

For Victims Of Abuse

  • VAWA applicants who have been victims of extreme cruelty or some type of abuse.
    • Spouses abused by an American citizen or lawful permanent resident.
    • Abused children (whether unmarried and under 21 years of age) of a U. S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
    • Abused parents of an American citizen. 
  • Juvenile special immigrants.
  • Abused spouses and children.
    • If the spouse or child is abused or victims of extreme cruelty, they may apply for a Green Card under the Cuban adjustment law.
  • Spouse and child abused under HRIFA.
    • Children or spouses who are abused by a lawful permanent resident who received HRIFA-based status.

Through Other Categories

Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF)

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

The Diversity Visa Program

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

Through The Cuban Adjustment Law

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

Spouse Or Child Abused For Cruelty Under The Cuban Adjustment Law

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

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

Spouses or children of a lawful 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 lawful permanent resident who have received their Green Card thanks to the HRIFA.

With A Lautenberg Entry Permit 

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

Under The Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act Of 2000

For citizens of the following 3 countries who were granted temporary entry permission to the U. S:

  • Vietnam,
  • Laos, or
  • Cambodia.

However, this permit must have been granted on or before October 1, 1997 from Vietnam under:

  • The orderly exit 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% American Indian blood and maintain your primary residence in the U. S.

Persons Born In The United States Who Are Children Of Foreign Diplomats 

The children of officials who were born in the U. S while their parents were within the country.

Diplomatic Section 13

Those who were stationed in the U. S as diplomats, officers or high-ranking foreigners and cannot return home. 

Through A Registry

If you have been continuously in the United States since before January 1, 1972.

cancellation of removal

Did you know that there is another way to get a Green Card? That’s right, if you qualify for cancellation of removal , upon approval, you could become a lawful permanent resident.

Forms And Documents You May Need To Apply For The Green Card

When you apply for a Green Card, you will generally need to complete at least two forms: 

  1. The immigrant petition, and 
  2. Form I-485 , application to register for lawful permanent residence or adjustment of status.

Likewise, another individual must file the petition for you. However, you may be eligible to do this on your own. According to USCIS, these are the most common forms to apply for the Green Card: 

  • I-130 Application,
  • I-140 Application,
  • Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition,
  • Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal,
  • Form I-360, petition for Amerasian, widow(er), or special immigrant,
  • Form I-918, petition for U nonimmigrant status.
  • Form I-929, petition for qualified relative of a U-1 nonimmigrant.

Other documents may be:

  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Financial Support,
  • Form I-693, Immigration Medical Examination Report and Immunization Record,
  • Evidence of inspection, admission, or permission to enter the US (known as Form I94 , arrival/departure record).
  • Two color photographs taken in the last 30 days.
  • Form G-325A, biographical information.
  • Two letters with a job offer from an employer (if applicable).

Other Requirements To Apply For A Green Card

To apply for a Green Card, it is also necessary to meet the requirements established in one of the categories. This will depend on several factors, such as: 

  • The citizenship status of a family member who can sponsor you, 
  • Applying through an employer, or 
  • The request for asylum or refugee status.
  • Have a formal job offer from an individual or company in the United States.
  • Meet the academic level and experience requirements specified for a US job position.
  • Obtain a PERM labor certificate from the Department of Labor (DOL) from the employer demonstrating the lack of American citizen workers.

As we mentioned, these requirements can vary widely depending on the category in which you wish to obtain the Green Card. Therefore, for accurate and personalized information about this, please feel free to contact us. 

When Do I Get The Green Card?

If you met the requirements and subsequently applied for the Green Card, you may have to wait until you receive it. Generally, you would have to wait up to 90 days from the date of your entry to obtain the Green Card. 

Of course, this all depends on your immigration status. In fact, immigration previously used the USCIS 90-day rule to determine the immigration intentions of foreigners. In our publication, you will learn how the legacy of this rule may continue to affect you in your current process to obtain a Green Card.

How Many Years Does It Take To Obtain A Green Card?

The time it takes to obtain a Green Card varies widely due to various factors. For example, the type of application and USCIS processing times. Normally, a Creen Card by marriage usually takes between 13 and 37 months.

However, on average, the entire process can take between 1 and 10 years, but it will depend on your scenario. Also, it is possible that it may take longer for citizens of Mexico or China. This is because they typically have a much higher volume of Green Card applicants annually.

How Many Years Should I Wait To Apply For Citizenship After Getting A Green Card?

It is possible to apply for American citizenship 5 years after obtaining the Green Card. Although lawful permanent residents with a Green Card based on marriage can apply for citizenship after 3 years.

marriage based green card interview questions

The marital residency process is usually very complex, as it is necessary to complete a series of marriage-based Green Card interview questions. Furthermore, if you do not pass them, it could lead to a stokes interview, being a little more strict.

Green Card Costs In 2024

The cost for submitting a Green Card application varies. However, its fee can be around $1,760 if the applicant processes it from within the United States. On the other hand, it would be more or less around $1,200 if the applicant resides outside the United States.

These costs are an estimate, since it all depends on how you try to get the Green Card. Additionally, if you hire a lawyer, you may have to pay their fees. If you are interested in knowing more about law firm and attorney fees, review our blog “How much does an Immigration lawyer cost ” or write to us.

How To Track The Green Card?

  1. Create an account on USCIS Case Status . 
  2. Use USPS “Informed Delivery” to track packages, set up alerts, and provide delivery instructions. 
  3. For delivery problems, contact your local post office. 
  4. If your address changes, update it quickly with USCIS and USPS to avoid delays and loss of documents.

If you need more help on how to track your Green Card after getting one, please contact us. 

Can I Leave The United States While My Green Card Application Is Pending?

You can leave the U. S. if your Form I-485 is pending. However, you must apply for advance parole. If you leave without this permission, you will be considered to have abandoned your Green Card application.

After Getting The Green Card, How Can I Keep It?

There are a series of rules to comply with for you to maintain the Green Card. Among them are:

  • You cannot be absent from the United States for an extended period of time without complying with certain requirements and notices.
  • You should be sure to file federal and state income tax returns.
  • If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26, registration in the Selective Service System is mandatory.
  • When changing residence, it is necessary to notify the Department of Human Services (DHS).
  • In situations where you need to be absent from the United States for more than 12 months, you must apply for a re-entry permit. To do this, use Form I-131, Application for a Travel Document. This permit is valid for two years and allows you to enter upon presentation at a port of entry.
  • If you have not applied for the permit or are unable to return before it expires, you can apply for a Returning Resident visa (SB-1).

Can I Renew My Green Card?

Yes, you can renew your Green Card, as long as you are already a lawful permanent resident. However, if it is a conditional one, you will not be able to renew it, only replace it.

Is It Easy To Get A U. S. Green Card?

Getting a Green Card is not easy. In fact, the process can be long and complicated. Therefore, it is important to have the help of a good immigration lawyer, since doing it incorrectly could cost you years and a lot of money. If that were not enough, it could expose you to deportation, criminal charges, and being bared from entering the country.

Latino Lawyers To Obtain Or Renew Your Green Card

You already have extensive information on how to get the Green Card. Therefore, if you are now looking for Latino lawyers to obtain your Green Card, you can contact us to receive personalized legal advice. You can do this by email, phone, or by scheduling an appointment with the office in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

At Curbelo Law, our attorneys Carolina T. Curbelo and Sharon Lieberman can help you resolve any immigration matter. 

We have more than 10 years of success helping Latino immigrants and other communities obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. Call today and you will get private advice on your immigration scenario.