A green card is the ultimate immigration benefit. It makes you a permanent resident of the United States. It allows you to live, work, and study here. Usually it gives you a pathway to citizenship.
For those reasons, a green card isn’t easy to get. Make sure you’re working with a skilled, experienced, and conscientious immigration lawyer before you even try it, because even small mistakes could delay your application or result in a rejection.
If you need help applying for a green card, contact Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez. Giselle helps clients with the full range of immigration challenges, including visas. She is bilingual (English & Spanish), and works with clients throughout Greater Boston and Massachusetts. Contact Giselle today to discuss your case, or read on to find out more about protecting your immigration status in the United States.
Who can get a green card?
There are eight categories of green-card-eligible immigrants.
The first are family members of US citizens. That category includes spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. It may also include parents.
Employment is another common way to get a green card. If you have an employment visa that is first through third “preference,” then you might be able to apply. These are usually “skilled” or “exceptional” workers, often with advanced degrees. Right now there is also a physicians’ national interest waiver allowing green cards for physicians who agree to work full-time in specific underserved areas for a set period of time while meeting other eligibility requirements. Immigrant investors can also get green cards.
There are also pathways through refugee status, asylum status, for victims of human trafficking and crime, and for victims of abuse.
There are also some special avenues to getting a green card, including:
- for individuals who have resided continuously in the United States since before January 1, 1972
- for religious workers
- for juveniles who have been abandoned or abused by their parents
- for Afghanistan or Iraqi nationals who meet certain requirements
- for international broadcasters, and
- for employees of international organizations
All green card applicants must be of good moral character. In general you cannot get a green card with a criminal record, or if you’ve found to be in violation of United States immigration policy in the past. At the very least, those issues can complicate your visa application.
Why are green card applications denied?
There are several categories of problems that could result in a denial of your green card application:
- Errors on your application.
- Fraudulent information on your application, according to USCIS.
- Health reasons, like having a dangerous communicable disease.
- Past violations of immigration policy.
- A criminal record.
- USCIS suspicion that you will need public assistance.
- USCIS suspects a history with terrorist groups or other groups meant to overthrow the United States.
- Not meeting any other requirements of a green card.
Other reasons are more administrative, such as changing jobs after filing a I-140 or errors made by decision-makers.
Working with me will give you the best chance of getting a green card.
How long do green card applications take?
Your green card application can take anywhere from 7 months to 33 months. The turnaround time depends on how backlogged USCIS is, and on whether USCIS runs into problems or needs to provide you with RFEs (requests for evidence).