At Nuñez & Associates we have helped hundreds of applicants over the years to successfully apply for and receive their green card. We’ll walk you through the process, explaining it every step of the way, so you understand your rights and exactly what’s happening. In the end, with green card happily in hand, you’ll be glad you sought qualified help.
Next to full citizenship, permanent residency status is the most desirable of outcomes for an immigrant. It permits you to stay in the U.S. legally, often indefinitely, leaving you free to go on with your life.
As with most immigrant status applications, however, the process is daunting and we highly recommend that you not attempt to navigate it on your own. With thousands of immigrants applying for legal status in the U.S. each year, it’s pertinent that your application forms be completed and submitted exactly as the authorities expect, otherwise they’re likely to send it back, at best, or deny your application at worst.
Immigrants fitting into certain categories may be eligible to obtain permanent residency status, also called a green card. The process of gaining permanent residency status is also dependent on whether you are presently located in the U.S. or abroad. Those seeking a green card may be eligible through sponsorship by a spouse or other family member, their employment, or through asylum or refugee status, among other special categories.
Permanent residency can be obtained by sponsorship from an immediate family member if you are:
An immigrant can obtain a green card through his or her employment in the following ways:
Job offer — employer needs to obtain a Labor Certification and file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
Investment — entrepreneurs or those with considerable finances who invest a substantial amount into a particular enterprise that creates American jobs (EB-5 visa)
Self-Petition based on special abilities — this includes professors, scientists, performers, artists and athletes or those with extraordinary ability (O and P visas)
Special categories — broadcaster, Iraqi/Afghan translator, Panama Canal employee, religious worker, physician national waiver, NATO-6 nonimmigrant, Iraqi who assisted U.S. government and international organization employee
Applicants may have to leave the U.S. to complete the visa procedure at a U.S. Consulate abroad if they are unable to obtain adjustment of status while in the U.S.
Those who were granted asylum or refugee status can apply for permanent residency. This status is conferred on those who were persecuted in their home country for political opinions, race, or for being a member of a certain social group, religion or national ancestry. Individuals admitted as a refugee are required to apply for permanent residency after one year of residence in the U.S. Those granted asylum status in the U.S. must wait one year after achieving such status before applying for a green card, though they are not required to do so.
When applying for residency, most applicants must demonstrate “continuous presence” in the U.S. This usually means a continuous presence of five years, but this time is shortened to three years for spouses of U.S. citizens. Continuous presence means that you have not been outside the U.S. for any extended period, or for more than six months, unless you can show a good reason.
Continuous presence is different from physical presence. Applicants need to be physically present for 30 months within the five years before applying. If the applicant is a qualified spouse of a U.S. citizen, he or she needs to be present for 18 months within three months of applying.
Applicants must also prove physical presence in a state or district where they are residents before applying with Form N-400.
There are exceptions to the continuous residency requirement. Members of the U.S. Armed Services; those working for the U.S. government, a public international organization, an American institute for research, or an organization designated under the International Immunities Act; and U.S. contractors may all request that their absence from the U.S. not be counted against them. These individuals may need to file Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.
If you or a loved one are considering applying for residency in the U.S., it is important that you understand the laws applicable to your situation.