In fiscal 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued nearly 577,000 Green Cards — also known as Permanent Resident Cards — with nearly 94 percent of them going to immediate relatives. Green Cards allow qualified non-citizen applicants to live and work in the United States permanently.
Statistics for 2020 are not yet available, though more than 1.4 million petitions were still pending at the close of 2019 while new applications were on the upswing at the same time.
In addition to family ties, Green Cards are issued based on employment needs (capped at 140,000 a year); on refugee or asylee status; on human trafficking and crime victim status; on abused victim status; and on various other special categories.
If you’re in Providence, Rhode Island, or in other communities in the state and you or a relative is seeking Green Card status through a family member or other avenue (EXCEPT employment), contact the Law Office of Layne C. Savage. We will guide you through the process with the utmost attention to detail – aimed at the best possible outcome for you.
The main benefit of having a Green Card is, of course, the entitlement to permanent resident status with full employment rights. After you obtain Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status, you are eligible to file for your Work Permit (Employment Authorization, Form I-765) and you will be assigned a Social Security Number (SSN). You can use your Work Permit and SSN to prove employment eligibility when completing Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) when offered a new job.
Once you have your Green Card and Social Security Number, you may then get a state-issued driver’s license. Green Card holders are also eligible for certain health, education, and other benefits. In addition, you can petition for your spouse and unmarried children to receive their own Green Cards as “preference relatives,” though the process can take a while depending on quotas and other factors.
Permanent residents remain citizens of their country of origin, so when they travel abroad, they must use the passport of their home country as well as the U.S. Green Card for re-entry purposes. If the trip lasts longer than a year, the Green Card holder must obtain a reentry permit.
Green Cards are issued by category, many of which were mentioned earlier. Each category carries with it a different set of eligibility requirements. As also mentioned above, the vast majority of Green Cards are allotted to immediate relatives. Immediate relatives are spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens (who are over 21 years old).
The “Family Preference” category branches out to include spouses and unmarried sons and daughters, under 21, of lawful permanent residents; married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens 21 years of age or older.
Other categories exist for refugees, crime and abuse victims, and certain other race- and nationality-based humane standards. There is also the State Department’s diversity visa lottery process, as well as a provision for individuals who have resided in the U.S. permanently since before January 1, 1972, to apply.
The employment category covers certain professionals and is based on descending order of preference, and is capped currently at 140,000 yearly. This office DOES NOT specialize in employment-based Green Card Applications.
Anytime you are dealing with USCIS (Immigration), there are many issues to deal with that are specific to each person and their situation! USCIS will look for any reason to reject your petition or application, so it is important to have someone with experience to help you out. Call us today, 401-273-4990, to set up an appointment to discuss your case.
To obtain a Green Card, you must also have a visa showing you’re in the United States legally. In many cases, you can apply for both the visa and the Green Card at the same time, which is called “concurrent filing” by the USCIS.
Concurrent filings are available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. A few other eligibility categories exist but are limited. In a concurrent filing, the visa application is considered first. The immediate relative visa allotment is uncapped, but caps may exist on other visa categories.
The document needed to file for your Green Card is known as Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You may also be required to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative; Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. There are also fees to be paid and supporting documents to be submitted.
Green Cards now must be renewed every ten years. The card itself expires but your status remains the same, though without the card as proof of residency, you could find yourself facing employment challenges or other legal setbacks. It is very important to be sure that you renew your Green Card in plenty of time before its expiration - especially since it may take up to a year to be renewed. Attorney Layne Savage can also help you with the renewal process.
Replacing your Green Card for any reason - like your name has changed, to change your gender, or even if there is a typo - is also a process and often includes a filing fee to USCIS. Call Attorney Layne Savage to help you with the renewal process.
As you can see, obtaining a visa and Green Card is a complicated process, including numerous technicalities too lengthy to fully explain here. To properly navigate the paperwork and meet all the legal challenges to obtain your Green Card, you should rely on the expertise and experience of a skilled immigration attorney.
The Law Office of Layne C. Savage has helped countless Rhode Islanders with immigration challenges, including citizenship and residency, adjustment of status, deportation and removal proceedings, and many other issues. We’re here to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today for an initial consultation regarding your unique situation.
In addition to helping residents in and around Providence, Rhode Island, we are also available for those in and around Boston, Massachusetts.