Immigration & Naturalization Law
Permanent Residence (Green Cards)
In this article
- How Do I Apply For Immigrant Status Based On Employment?
- Can I Get A Green Card Through A Family Member?
- Is Each Applicant Limited To Only One Entry During The Annual EDV (Green Card Lottery) Registration Period?
- How Do I Apply To Renew A Green Card?
- How Do I Obtain Refugee Status?
- Who Is Eligible For Asylum And How Might I Apply?
An immigrant is a foreign national who is authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant based on employment:
- The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USICS) must approve an immigrant petition (application) that was filed for you, usually by an employer.
- In most employment, a U.S. employer must complete a labor certification request (ETA 750) for you from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
- The State Department must give you an immigrant visa number, even if you are already in the United States.
- If you are already in the United States, you must apply to adjust to permanent resident status when a visa number becomes available.
Yes. Many people become permanent residents (get a green card) through family members. The United States promotes family unity and allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to petition for certain relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. You may be eligible to get a green card through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or through a different avenue.
There are two distinct paths through which you can get your green card. Many family members who are already in the United States may qualify for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States, which means they are able to complete their immigrant processing without having to return to their home country. Those relatives outside the United States or those who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States may be eligible for consular processing through a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad that has jurisdiction over their foreign place of residence.
Is Each Applicant Limited To Only One Entry During The Annual EDV (Green Card Lottery) Registration Period?
Yes, the law allows only one entry by or for each person during each registration period. If you submit more than one entry you will be disqualified. The Department of State will employ sophisticated technology and other means to identify individuals who submit multiple entries during the registration period. People submitting more than one entry will be disqualified, and an electronic record will be permanently maintained by the Department of State. Individuals may apply for the program each year during the regular registration period.
If you are a permanent resident whose 10-year Form I-551 has expired or will expire within the next 6 months, you may renew your green card by filing a Form I-90.
If you are outside the United States and your green card will expire within 6 months (but you will return within 1 year of your departure from the United States and before the card expires), you should file for your renewal card as soon as you return to the United States.
If you are outside of the United States when the card expires and you have not applied for the renewal card prior to your departure, you should contact the nearest U.S. Consulate, USCIS office, or U.S. port of entry before attempting to file Form I-90 for a renewal green card.
U.S. immigration law provides for giving refugee status and asylum status to persons who have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, nationality, religion, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
If you are outside the United States and wish to apply for refugee status through the United States Resettlement Program (USRP), you must first get a referral from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or, in rare instances, the U.S. Embassy in your country. A referral is not the same thing as being registered with the UNHCR. If you are already registered with the UNHCR, but wish to apply for resettlement in a third country under P1, you need to make a formal application through the UNHCR. This means that the person must go to the UNHCR and request to be considered for a Priority-1 interview with the US Resettlement Program. Without this referral, a person cannot be considered under Priority-1 processing.
Asylum may be granted to people who are arriving in or already physically present in the United States. To apply for asylum in the United States, you may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, at the appropriate Service Center within one year of your arrival in the United States. You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, whether you are in the United States legally or illegally.
You must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the United States, but you may apply for asylum later than one year if there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year.
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