How Do You Obtain and Keep A Green Card?
In the U.S., it is possible to become a permanent resident through your qualified family member, an offer for employment, your job or some special category. For each category of immigrants, Congress has set a limited number of visas that can be used each year.
Who Qualifies to Become a Green Card Holder?In the U.S., it is possible to become a permanent resident through your qualified family member, an offer for employment, your job or some special category. For each category of immigrants, Congress has set a limited number of visas that can be used each year.
However, with a a few exceptions, there are no limits for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen.
Generally speaking, in order to meet the requirements for lawful permanent residence in the United States, you must: Qualify an immigrant category established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); Have an approved, and qualified immigrant petition filed and approved on your behalf; An immigrant visa is available immediately; and you are admissible to the United States.
What Does the Law Say?In the present political climate there is a lot of talk about illegal immigration. To lawfully immigrate to the United States, you must obtain a "green card". A Permanent Resident Card, often referred to as a Green Card, is proof of your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident .
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that, after required registration, "Every alien in the United States shall be issued a certificate of alien registration or an alien registration receipt card in such form and manner and at such time as shall be prescribed under regulations (Section 264)."
It also states, "Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him. Any alien who fails to comply with [these] provisions shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."
The detailed requirements and procedures for applying to renew an expiring permanent resident card are set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR 264.5.
When Should You Renew Your Permanent Resident Card?If you are a permanent resident who was issued a Form I-551 valid for ten years, you should renew your permanent resident card if it is either expired or will expire within the next six months.
If you are a Conditional Resident and your status is expiring, use Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) to apply to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status. The petition must be filed during the 90-day period immediately before your conditional residence expires.
If you are a lawful permanent resident whose ten-year I-551 has expired or will expire within the next six months, you may renew your card by filing Form I-90.
What If You Are Outside of the United States?If you are outside the United States, and you plan to return within a year, you should file for the renewal of green card as soon as you return to the United States IF the card will expire within 6 months.
If your card expires while you are outside of the United States, and you failed to apply for the renewal card before your departure, you should contact the nearest American Consulate, USCIS office, or Port of Entry. Do this before you file Form I-90 for the renewal of your I-551 card.
How Can You Check the Status of Your Application?You may obtain answers to immigration-related questions by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283. Be prepared with a pen, pad and specific information about your application, such as your receipt number, Alien Registration Number, name, and date of birth. You may also check the status of your application online.
What If Your Application Is Denied?In the event your application to renew your green card is denied, you will receive a letter explaining why it was denied. You cannot appeal the decision to deny your application, but you can submit a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider. This document would be filed with the same office that denied your application. By filing such a motion, you are asking that the USCIS office reexamine or reconsider its decision.
Your motion to reopen must state the new facts that are to be provided should the proceeding be reopened. It must be accompanied by appropriate documentary evidence to support your claim. A motion to reconsider must establish that the decision to deny your application was based on an incorrect application of law or Immigration policy, and further establish that the decision was incorrect, based on the evidence in the file at the time the decision was made.
Can Anyone Help Me?You might be best served by obtaining the assistance of an immigration attorney. However, if you do not have financial resources, you may also contact the District Office near your home for a list of non-profit organizations who may be able to assist you.