A Guide To American Green Cards
If you've made the decision to start a new life in the United States, your next step should be to find out whether or not you are eligible to apply for a green card. As there are multiple cards that you may be eligible to apply for. Keep in mind that the process which you'll be expected to go through will be slightly different, depending on which type of card that you choose to apply for.
Applying For Citizenship After Obtaining A Green Card
Obtaining residency is the first step in becoming a US citizen. If your long-term goal is to become an American citizen, you'll need to live in the United States as a permanent resident, for at least 913 days of the next five years. At which point in time you can start the naturalization process to become a fully-fledged US citizen. When you are ready to begin your road to citizenship, you'll need to fill out a N-400 application form, which can be conveniently filled out online.
Soon after you submit your application, you'll receive a biometric services appointment, during which your fingerprints and photographs will be taken. You'll also be required to provide a digital signature in order to legally confirm that all the information which you provided on your N-400 application form is true.
The Types Of Residency Visas That Are On Offer
- Diversity Lottery
While the diversity lottery is free to enter, each year that the visa lottery is held, only 50,000 candidates are randomly chosen to receive a green card. The main catch of the diversity lottery is that applicants must come from specified countries, which change from year to year. Typically candidates must be citizens of countries that have had little immigration to the United States in the past. If your name is selected in a diversity lottery, you'll be required to take part in a formal interview at your nearest US embassy or consulate.
- Family Based
One of the easiest ways to earn a residency visa is through an immediate family member. If you're fortunate enough to have a spouse, parent, sibling, or child that is an American citizen or resident, you should have no issue getting a visa approved. As direct family members of US citizens and residents are typically given first preference by the USCIS who prioritize reuniting families in the United States. However, if you planned to get a grandparent, cousin, aunt, or aunt to sponsor your move to the United States, you may be disappointed as such family members are not considered by the USCIS to be immediate family members.
If your spouse is American, instead of filling out an application form for a family sponsored visa, you'll need to fill out an application form for a marriage-based visa. There are some stipulations when it comes to applying for a green card through marriage. For instance, you'll need to provide a verified copy of your marriage certificate as well as supplementary evidence which will convince the US embassy or consulate to who your case is referred, that your marriage is real.
If you're engaged to an American, you can also apply for a visa by filling out a K1 fiancé visa. To have a k1 fiancé visa approved, you'll need to tie the knot with your fiancé, within 90 days or 3 months
If you're unable to get into the United States through a family member, if you have a skilled job or hold a college degree, one of the best ways to obtain a residency visa is to apply for job positions with businesses that are willing to sponsor visas for foreign nationals. One of the bonuses of getting into the country on an employer sponsored visa is that if you're chosen for a job position, your sponsor can also apply for a temporary work permit. So that you'll be able to move to the United States and start working before your green card arrives.
You can also attempt to move to the United States if you are a refugee or asylum seeker and are looking for a safe refuge. As you fear persecution if you were to remain in your country of origin and are looking to restart your life in a safe country.
The Application Process
Fill out your application forms through the USCIS online platform. If you haven't already created an online account with the USCIS, you'll be required to do so and to verify your email before you can get started. The main advantage of filling out your application online is that you'll be able to check the current status of your application at any point in time. You can even begin a conversation with a USCIS agent if you have urgent queries about your petition.
Next, you'll need to turn up for your biometric services appointment, which must take place before the USCIS transfers your application to your nearest US embassy or consulate. If there are no issues with your application, you'll need to schedule a formal interview at your nearest US consulate or embassy, which is the final step in your visa journey.
While you may be asked difficult or personal questions during your interview, if the agent in charge of your interview believes that you're an exemplary candidate to become a US resident, you'll likely have your application approved. Just be mindful of the fact that it can take months to get to this stage of your journey. Especially if the USCIS has a backlog of applications to get through.
If Your Application Gets Approved
Once your visa has been approved, you'll receive an information packet that will tell you when you can legally fly to the United States and when you should expect to receive your green card in the post. Also, keep in mind that you will have to pay an immigrant fee when you enter the United States. Which you'll need to pay when you arrive at the airport.