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Green Card Process in Simple Terms



What is a Green Card?
The Benefits of Green Card Holder The benefits of being a Green Card Holder are the following:
1. Live in the U.S. Permanently
2. Take Employment or Engage in Business
3. Study
4. Sponsor Family to Obtain LPR Status
5. All other Rights and Benefits Not Otherwise Reserved to U.S. Citizens
Different Ways to Get a Green Card There are generally five (5) ways to get a Green Card or LPR status as found in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), to wit:
1. Family-Based Immigrant Petitions
2. Employment-Based or Employment Creation Immigrant Petitions
3. Asylum and Refugee Status
4. Diversity Lottery Program
The Green Card Process
1. Adjustment of Status (AOS) filed with the USCIS
  • In regard to Family-Based Petitions a simple USCIS Form I-130 is filed together with supporting documents; while Employment-Based Petitions often require a Labor Certification with the Department of Labor (DOL) for the petitioner-employer to prove that required recruitment processes were done and U.S. workers were not unjustly deprived of the position in favor of the skilled foreign worker. There are certain occupations that are pre-certified or which belong to the “Schedule A” category such as Registered Nurse and Physical Therapists, as the DOL has determined that there is not enough U.S. workers are able, willing qualified and available to perform such work. There are also others with extraordinary ability or qualify under the National Interest Waiver, those with exceptional abilities in the science or arts that do not have to go through Labor Certification simply because people who belong to this category are specially gifted, America wants them to live in the U.S. and contribute to the development of the U.S. economy. If the position is pre-certified or the Labor Certification is approved, it will serve as a ticket to filing the USCIS Form I-140 and its supporting documents;
  • Concurrently filed with the USCIS Forms I-130 and I-140, are the applications for AOS, Employment Authorization Document (USCIS Form I-765 or EAD) and sometimes, Travel Document (USCIS I-131) by the Applicant if there is an intention to leave the U.S. while the petition is still pending lest it be considered abandoned;
  • In about a month, the USCIS will issue biometric schedule notice wherein the applicant’s fingerprint and photographs will be taken at a USCIS Support Center. These information and data will then be forwarded to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other appropriate government agencies for background checking.
  • Within ninety (90) days from date of concurrent filing, the USCIS will issue the EAD. Once issued, the applicant can go straight to the nearest Social Security Administration (SAA) office and apply for a Social Security number. The SS card will be delivered within ninety (90) days. The applicant can then work anywhere in the U.S.
  • USCIS schedules Adjustment Interviews usually for Marriage-Based Immigrant Petitions to determine the legitimacy of the marriage between the U.S. Citizen Petitioner and the foreign national spouse. Normally, there is no interview conducted for Employment-Based Petitions because the information provided can easily be verified based on the documents submitted. On the latter case, Green Card is simply sent by mail by the USCIS to the beneficiary or applicant;
  • At the adjustment interview for marriage-based immigrant petitions, the couple will be subjected to often lengthy and grueling interview wherein the USCIS Adjudicators probe into the minds and actions of the couple to determine if there is marriage fraud involved (Please check out our blog, US Immigration Interview Part 1: Practical Tips for Adjustment Interview (Marriage-Based or Spousal Petitions to learn more about this topic!). Applications maybe approved outright, deferred for further evaluation or the couple required to submit more evidence to prove the legitimacy of the marriage;
2. Consular Processing
  • USCIS Form I-130 (Family-Based) or USCIS I-140 (Employment-Based) is filed with the USCIS as already explained above;
  • Once, the USCIS approves the petition, it will forward the whole record to the NVC within two weeks;
  • If the priority date is not yet current, the NVC will send a letter (with the new case reference number) to the petitioner and legal representative that the record of the case has been forwarded to the NVC but the priority date is not yet current and will advise the petitioner and applicant of further instructions. If the priority is immediately available, about to be current or is already current , the petitioner will receive the Affidavit of Support Fee Bill and the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee Bill;
  • Once the Affidavit of Support Fee Bill and Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee Bill are paid, NVC will issue Document Cover Sheets which should be submitted to the NVC and placed on top of the following: a) USCIS Form I-864, Affidavit of Support (and supporting documents and that of Joint Sponsor’s Affidavit of Support if petitioner’s income is not sufficient; and b) the Civil Documents (electronically filed DS-260, copies of unexpired passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, Police Reports, Certificates of No-Marriage and etc.);
  • NVC reviews the submitted documents and within 60 to 90 days, it will forward the whole record to the designated U.S. Embassy or Consulate Office;
  • NVC will also send out email and letter notices to the petitioner and applicant advising them of the scheduled interview and other instructions on what steps to be taken. At this juncture, it would be wise to visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate Office concerned because each post has a different procedure and registration requirements before making any appointment for Medical Examination and Interview. At least two weeks before the scheduled interview, the required Medical Examination at the a designated medical clinic and the gathering of all original civil documents must be completed;
  • Visa applicant (and family members, if applicable) will be interviewed by the Consular Officer on the scheduled date (You may also read our blog, US Immigration Interview Part 2: Practical Tips for US Visa Interview at the Consular Office. The focus of blog is more for Tourist Visa but you can use those tips also for Immigrant Visa Interviews!);
  • If the visa application is approved, the applicant will receive a sealed Immigrant Packet from the US Embassy or U.S. Consulate Office together with the applicant’s passport with the Immigrant Visa on it. You need to pay also the Immigrant Fee (there is an instruction for this) at the USCIS website so that your Green Card will be sent to you at the given address in the U.S. Applicant by now is allowed to board the plane to the U.S.
    Please take note that the Applicant is not considered a Green Card Holder until he steps into the U.S. soil and properly inspected at the Port of Entry (POE). The applicant is expected to hand over the sealed Immigrant Packet to the POE Officer in the U.S. Note also, that your local government might require you to undergo certain seminars or orientations before you are allowed to migrate to the U.S.
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Copyright © All Rights Reserved TAGGED: IMMIGRATION ABOUT THE AUTHOR immigration lawyer california author profile pic Attorney Ponferrada (Attorney Karlo or Atty. Ponfy) was a consistent Dean’s Lister and Honors Law Graduate from a very prestigious law school and has passed the California State Bar and other bar exams abroad on his first attempt. He has been practicing law for more than 25 years. He has maintained an attitude of excellence, honesty and discipline in his personal and professional life and has endeavored to always make his family, friends and loved ones proud of him. Like and Follow us on Facebook -