For many people, becoming a permanent resident and living in the United States is a dream they have held for many years. However, since there are thousands of people attempting to obtain green cards annually, not everyone sees their request granted. While the process is complex and time-consuming, it can be accomplished if you know the proper steps to take along the way. Should you desire permanent U.S. residency, here are some things to keep in mind while you are working with a Los Angeles immigration lawyer to see your dream become reality.
What are the Benefits of a Green Card?
Though the work needed to obtain a green card can be tedious and at times frustrating, it does offer many benefits once obtained. Along with giving you official U.S. immigration status that will give you the legal right to be in the United States, your green card will also be required should you decide to pursue naturalization to become a U.S. citizen.
Am I Eligible for a Green Card?
Fortunately, there are many criteria used when determining who is eligible for a green card in the United States. The most common of these is obtaining a green card through your family, which usually happens if you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, such as a spouse, unmarried child, or parent of a U.S. citizen. However, you may also be eligible for a green card if you can show you are a victim of special types of abuse, are a juvenile who has been abandoned by your parents, or are a victim of human trafficking. Should you feel your circumstances dictate you are eligible for a green card, speak to a permanent residency lawyer in Los Angeles right away.
Applying for Your Green Card
Once your eligibility is verified, you should apply for your green card as soon as possible. To do so and make sure the process goes smoothly, hire a Los Angeles permanent residency attorney to assist you from beginning to end. Since you will have numerous questions along the way, having your attorney by your side will help ensure critical mistakes are not made that could make the application process drag on far longer than you expected. To apply, you will need to file Form I-485 with USCIS, along with supporting documents such as your birth certificate, passport-style photos of yourself, and other documentation as requested by USCIS. In addition, you will need to pay a filing fee, which in most cases can exceed $1,000, so keep this in mind.
Your USCIS Interview
Once your green card application has been reviewed and approved by USCIS, the agency will contact you to schedule an in-person interview. While this may sound intimidating, it is usually only a formality. In most cases, you will be allowed to have your Los Angeles immigration lawyer accompany you to the interview. Along with discussing details about the interview beforehand, your attorney can also make sure you are dressed appropriately for the interview, show up on time, and have any information with you that has been requested by USCIS.
How Long is the Green Card Valid?
While you will need to put in much work to obtain a green card, the good news is that once it is given to you by USCIS, it will be valid for 10 years. Along with giving you and your family tremendous peace of mind, this will open up numerous opportunities to you regarding employment, obtaining your education, and applying for U.S. citizenship if you so choose.
Visa Lottery Program
If you live in a country that has a very low rate of immigration to the United States, you may be eligible to participate in the federal government’s visa lottery program. Under this program, up to 50,000 immigrant visas are awarded to participants each year. Occurring only once every year, usually for up to five weeks during the fall, you will need to work with a permanent residency lawyer in Los Angeles to ensure you know how to complete the online application and move forward should you be one of the names selected in the random drawing.
What if the Government Makes an Error?
Unfortunately, there are times when the U.S. government makes an error in approving a green card application. Should this take place, government policy states this makes a person ineligible for naturalization, even if there is no evidence fraud or willful misrepresentation took place on their part. Should this unusual event happen to you, do not simply give up. Since you did nothing wrong, immediately consult with an immigration attorney in Los Angeles who has handled such cases in the past. By doing so, you can get important information about how to proceed.
Be Wary of Scams
Since green cards are so coveted by immigrants to the U.S., scam artists are always seeking ways to take advantage of this situation. In doing so, they can obtain personal information to be used for identity theft, convince you to pay them money to help you obtain a green card, or perhaps both. Whatever the case may be, never fall for the lines of scammers. Instead, get answers to your questions by speaking to a permanent residency attorney in Los Angeles who has been trusted by individuals for years to help them obtain legal status in the United States.
Since the process for obtaining a green card may take years from start to finish, always make sure you have a clear understanding of the process and the many steps it involves. While you can find out much of the information you need on your own, nothing can replace the experience and knowledge of a Los Angeles permanent residency attorney. By scheduling a consultation as soon as possible, you can discuss any concerns you may have, learn how various steps of the process work, and most importantly gain the peace of mind you will need as you move forward in your quest to gain legal immigration status.