There are many paths to lawful permanent residence in the United States. This is commonly referred to as “getting a green card.” Green cards allow the bearer to live and work in the United States indefinitely: so long as the card is renewed as required (usually every ten years) and the bearer remains eligible to stay in the United States (as by not being convicted of a crime), the immigrant can continue to live and work in the United States on a long term basis. Learn more about the different types of green cards.
U.S. citizens can sponsor family members for green cards. Immediate relatives (parents, spouses, and unmarried children) can get an immediate family member green card. While this green card is not limited by annual quotas, there will still be a lengthy processing period by Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department. Citizens can also sponsor more distant relatives (including married children and siblings) for green cards that are limited by annual quotas. These green cards can take longer to obtain, but they are available to a broader range of family members. Green card holders may also sponsor their own spouses or unmarried children for green cards.
Employers can sponsor employees for green cards. While a short-term business visitor might only require a visa, long-term employees are likely to need green cards in order to perform all work required of their employers. Employer sponsors must be certified by the Department of Labor. The immigration process can be lengthy and expensive, so many small employers are not able to sponsor their workers for green cards. If your employer does sponsor your green card, be sure you are prepared for any changes in your employment status. If you quit your job or are laid off, your immigration status could be placed in jeopardy.
United States law has also created a wide variety of humanitarian grounds for obtaining a green card. If you are a refugee who can lawfully claim asylum, you could be granted a green card on that basis. Victims of human trafficking and other specific crimes may also be eligible for green cards on humanitarian grounds. These humanitarian cases have been scrutinized much more carefully in recent years. The political climate has made it more difficult to obtain humanitarian immigration statuses, so it is important to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer about how you can prove your case – and what your realistic chances are of being able to successfully claim lawful immigration status as an asylee or crime victim.
There are many different types of green cards. It is important to apply for the right type of green card to avoid unnecessary delays and expenses. At Joseph & Hall, P.C., our experienced Aurora green card lawyers have helped many immigrants achieve long-term stability with lawful permanent residence. Visit our website to schedule an appointment or to find the office location that is closest to you.
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