The steps to becoming a Green Card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States. The main categories are:
- Green Card Through Family
- Green Card Through a Job
- Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status
You may be eligible to get a Green Card as:
- an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen
- a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category
- a family member of a green card holder
There are certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s:
- Unmarried child under the age of 21
- Parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)
Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.
Getting a Green Card While Inside the United States
One Step Process Certain people are eligible to apply for a green card while inside the United States. An immediate relative relationship allows you to apply on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to become a permanent resident at the same time your U.S. citizen petitioner files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
Two Step Process You still have the option to file your I-485 application any time after your petitioner files a Form I-130, for you, as long as it has not been denied. Generally, you will need to submit a copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, with your Form I-485, that shows the Form I-130 petition is either pending or approved.
- Step One – Your U.S. citizen immediate relative must file the Form I-130 for you and it must be either pending or approved.
- Step Two – After you receive Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that the Form I-130 has either been received by us or approved, then you may file Form I-485. When you file your I-485 application package, you must include a copy of the Form I-130 receipt or approval notice (the Form I-797).
Getting a Green Card While Outside the United States
If you are currently outside the United States and are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. You may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry.
If you do not apply for an immigrant visa within one year following notification from the Department of State, your petition may be terminated.
Get Legal Help
If you or someone you know want to apply for a Green Card, contact an immigration attorney in your area today! They will supply you with all of the right tools for your application.