Obtaining legal permanent residency in the U.S., also known as acquiring a green card, entitles you to live and work in the country, travel freely, and bring your spouse and children to join you here. It is also the first step in becoming a naturalized citizen.
These remarkable benefits do not come simply. Obtaining your Green Card is often a long and frustrating process. If you are applying for legal permanent resident (LPR) status in Tuscaloosa, seeking help from a skilled green card attorney is advisable. Our legal team could answer your questions and make sure you have all the resources you need to pursue a positive case result.
The U.S. is quite restrictive about the people it allows to remain permanently in the country. Only people who fit into specific categories are eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status. The relevant categories include:
In addition, the U.S. runs a diversity lottery every year, allowing 50,000 foreign nationals from countries with low U.S. immigration rates to apply for a Green Card.
There are varying requirements for documentation to support an LPR application, depending on the applicant’s current immigration status. A Tuscaloosa attorney could explain the requirements for a specific application and help a foreign national determine if they are eligible.
The procedure for seeking a Green Card depends partly on whether the applicant is already living in the U.S. or applying from outside the country.
When an applicant is already legally in the US, they should apply for an “adjustment of status.” They submit Form I-485 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Office (USCIS), requesting the change in status to Permanent Legal Resident.
If the applicant is a family member of a US citizen or Green Card holder, the sponsoring family member must file Form I-130. USCICS requires a marriage certificate if the applicant is a spouse of a US citizen. Applicants seeking a change in status based on employment must have their employer file Form I-140.
It is not unusual for applicants to receive requests for more information. Once the applicant has filed all required documents, the FBI conducts a background check, and the applicant must appear for an interview. The applicant usually will find out on that day whether their application for a change in status is approved.
An applicant for LPR status living outside the U.S. must go through the consular process, which means applying through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. The first step is to have an employer or a family member with a Green Card or U.S. citizenship complete the petition for change in status.
When the USCIS approves the petition, the applicant will receive a visa package. They complete the required forms and submit them to the Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. The applicant will then have an in-person interview with a consular official.
If their visa is approved, the applicant will receive an arrival package, also called a visa packet. The applicant travels to the US with the unopened package, which they present to a Customs and Immigration official at their point of entry. The official at the point of entry then has the power to decide whether an immigrant with a valid visa may enter the country.
Regardless of whether a foreign national seeking LPR status needs to apply from inside or outside of the U.S., a knowledgeable Tuscaloosa attorney could help mitigate issues and keep a petition on track.
The wait times for a green card vary widely depending on many factors, including the country of origin, legal basis for eligibility, and other issues that might be personal to the applicant. However, even when all goes smoothly with no preventable delays, the process of applying for LPR status usually takes years.
Working with a knowledgeable attorney in Tuscaloosa could ease the strain and prevent unnecessary delays on an LPR application. A legal professional could ensure an applicant has gathered all the necessary documents and completed the forms correctly. Additionally, they could help the applicant prepare for their interview with USCIS, which often is decisive in determining whether to grant the change in status.
If you are applying for legal permanent resident (LPR) status in Tuscaloosa, do not try to handle the process without professional advice. The application procedure is complex and full of pitfalls for the unwary.
A legal team member could stand by you through the entire process, explaining requirements and timelines and helping you respond to requests for more information. They could prepare you for an interview with immigration authorities and ensure the application process goes as smoothly as possible. Call today to get started on your journey to a Green Card.