Green Card Attorney In Austin, TX

Green Card Through Family Sponsorship

  1. An immediate family member of a U.S. citizen is eligible for a green card. Immediate family members include the spouse, children under 21 years of age, and the parents if the U.S. citizen is 21 years old or older.
  2. The following relatives of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident are eligible for green cards under the USCIS Family Preference categories:
  • The son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, married or unmarried, who is at least 21 years old.
  • The sibling of a U.S. citizen who is 21 years old or older.
  • The spouse of a legal permanent resident.
  • The unmarried child of a legal permanent resident who is under 21 years of age.
  • The adult, unmarried son, or daughter of a legal permanent resident who is at least 21 years old.
  1. The fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child is eligible for a green card. This means that the person entered the United States with a K-1 nonimmigrant visa or a K-2 nonimmigrant visa in the case of the fiancé(e)’s child.
  2. The widow or the widower of a U.S citizen who was married to the latter at the time of the latter’s death is eligible for a green card.
  3. A VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioner/victim of extreme cruelty and battery who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, their abused child who is unmarried and below 21 years of age, and the abused parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Green Card Through Employer Sponsorship

Immigrant Workers

The following immigrant workers are eligible for green cards if they fall under the following categories:

  1. First preference immigrant workers – those that are considered to have extraordinary ability in certain fields like the sciences and the arts. Persons that excel in the academic field as researchers or professors, as well as executives and managers of multinational companies that meet the criteria, are eligible for green cards under this category.

Extraordinary ability equates to consistent national or international recognition in the mentioned fields. Proof of achievements like an Olympic medal or an international award is required, and additional evidence to show that the person intends to pursue continuing work in that area.

Professors and researchers must have international recognition in their fields of expertise, with at least 3 years of experience in education and research. They must be seeking entry to the U.S. in order to work in the same field in a higher education institution.

Business executives and managers must have been employed by their respective companies for at least three years. They must also have been in the United States for at least a year, performing the work for the petitioning employer.

In all the above cases, there is no labor certification required.

  1. Second preference immigrant workers include professionals that have advanced degrees, have exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts, or business, or are seeking the national interest waiver.

An advanced degree refers to a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. or its foreign equivalent PLUS five years of post-graduate experience in their specialty. Proof of this includes official school records and letters from past or present employers certifying the post-baccalaureate work experience.

According to the USCIS, “exceptional ability” means “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”

The national interest waiver is when foreign citizens request that the labor certification be waived in their favor because they claim that the work they do will reflect on the national interest of the United States.

  1. Third preference immigrant workers include skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers.

Skilled workers are those that can show that they have at least 2 years of experience or training in the job that is specified in the labor certification. This work must be something that does not have any qualified workers who are U.S. citizens.

Professionals need to prove that they have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. This degree must be a usual requirement for the position they seek to fill in the United States. There must be no qualified U.S. workers for the said position.

Unskilled workers are those that perform work that requires less than 2 years of training. The categories above require a labor certification and a full-time job offer from a U.S. employer.

Physician National Interest Waiver

A doctor that commits to serving in an underserved area in the United States for a specific timeframe is eligible for an employment-based green card with a national interest waiver.

Immigrant Investor

An individual who has invested or is investing at least $1,000,000 in a new business that will provide jobs to no less than 10 U.S. employees is eligible for a green card in this category The investment may be as low as $500,000 if the business is set up in a targeted employment area where jobs are badly needed.

Green Card For Special Immigrants

This classification covers individuals that meet special criteria that make them eligible for a green card. It includes the following persons:

  1. Religious worker – persons that qualify for  green cards as religious workers include:
  • A foreign citizen that has been a member of a non-profit religious group in the United States for no less than 2 years.
  • A foreign citizen who has been working in the capacity of a religious minister, engaged in a religious vocation or occupation for the past 2 years before the filing of the immigration petition.
  • Foreign persons who wish to enter the U.S. to work for the employer’s denomination as a religious minister or any religious vocation or occupation.
  1. Special Immigrant Juvenile – a minor who requires the protection of juvenile court due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent.
  2. Afghan or Iraqi national – the following are eligible for a green card if they were paroled or admitted into the U.S. and are physically in the country:
  • A national of Afghanistan or Iraq who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. government.
  • An Iraqi who was employed for at least 1 year by the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003.
  • An Afghan who was employed by the U.S. government or the ISAF or International Security Assistance Force.

If an individual who falls within the above criteria entered the United States as a refugee, they should apply for a green card as a refugee and not as an Afghan or Iraqi interpreter in this category.

  1. International media – individuals from the media (and their spouses and/or children) who are entering the United States to work as a broadcaster for the USAGM or the United States Agency for Global Media. The term “broadcaster” is specifically defined by the USCIS to not include foreigners who work strictly on technical or support services in the entertainment sector.
  2. Employees, and their family members, of international organizations or NATO-6 – some employees of international organizations and their family members are eligible for green cards if their organizations are recognized. Aside from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), other recognized organizations are:
  • OAS – Organization of American States
  • IADB – Inter-American Defense Board
  • IADC – Inter-American Defense College
  • ITSO – International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
  • INTELSAT – International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
  • IMF – International Monetary Fund
  • World Bank

Retired officers or employees of these organizations are eligible for green cards if they meet the following criteria:

  • They have been residing in the U.S. as a nonimmigrant for no less than half of the last seven years prior to applying for a green card.
  • They have a total of a minimum of 15 years of physical residency in the United States prior to retiring.
  • The application for permanent residency was filed within six months from the retirement date.

The same criteria apply to the retiree’s or employee’s spouse if the former is already deceased. In this case, the application must have been filed within six months after the spouse’s death.

The unmarried son or daughter of a retired officer or employee must also comply with the residency requirement but the total number of years required for physical residence is only at least seven years since they were 5 years old until 21 years old. The application in this instance must be filed before the individual turns 25 years old.

Green Card For Refugees Or Asylees

Persons who were allowed entry into the United States as refugees under the Immigration and Nationality Act are eligible to apply for green cards one year after being granted refugee status.

Those who entered the country as asylees also become eligible after a year from being granted asylee status. Both refugees and asylees must have been physically in the U.S. for a year and must be present in the U.S. at the time of the filing for permanent residency.

Other Green Card Eligibility Categories

There are a few other categories that are eligible for green cards:

  • Human trafficking victims who are presently holding nonimmigrant visas.
  • Victims of crimes who have nonimmigrant visas.
  • Abused spouse or child of a Cuban citizen based on the Cuban Adjustment Act.
  • Abused spouse or child of a permanent resident who was granted a green card through the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act or HRIFA.
  • Persons selected in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program lottery.
  • Other individuals are deemed eligible under special laws.

Green Card Application Process

The application process varies on a case-to-case basis but the general process is as follows.

Step 1: An immigrant petition is filed by either a family member who is a U.S. citizen (for family-sponsored immigration) or an employer (employment-based immigration). Once the petition is approved by the USCIS, the foreign national may proceed to step 2.

Step 2: If the person is not in the U.S. step 2 is a visa application. The person applies for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State. If the visa is granted, the person travels to the United States and will wait until such time they are eligible for a green card. The time frame depends on their immigrant category.

If the person is already in the U.S. with a valid visa, then Step 2 is to apply for Adjustment of Status with the USCIS.

Step 3: The person is scheduled for a biometrics appointment during which fingerprints, photos, and signatures are taken.

Step 4: The green card applicant is scheduled for an interview for which they must appear.

Step 5: Await for a decision on the application.

Of course, as mentioned, there may be extra steps and criteria involved depending on what immigrant category the person falls under. There are various requirements and documents that need to be filled out, gathered, and submitted.

Anyone looking to acquire a green card would do well to hire an immigration attorney to advise them on the best course of action so that their green card journey is as smooth and painless as possible.

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