Do I Need a Green Card Lawyer?
There are many different ways to get a Green Card in the United States. Often times a person could potentially qualify for more than one category and does not even know it. Working with an experienced immigration attorney gives a person the best chance of qualifying for a Green Card and doing so in a way that meets the clients’ goals.
There are three main categories for someone to get a Green Card in the United States – family, employment, and asylum.
Certain family members of U.S. citizens and Green Card Holders can become eligible to receive Green Cards in the United States.
The family members with the top priority are called “Immediate Relatives.” In order to qualify as an Immediate Relative, one must be the spouse, parent or young unmarried child of a U.S. Citizen. There is no limit to the number of Immediate Relatives that can be granted Green Cards in the United States.
Other eligible family members fall into one of four “Preference Categories.” In order to qualify for one of the preference categories, one must be the son, daughter, sister or brother of a U.S. citizen, or the spouse or child of a Green Card holder. There is a limit to how many people in each preference category can receive a Green Card each year, so there is often a waiting period for people who wish to get a Green Card through the preference categories. An immigration attorney can identify which category a person is in and the likely waiting period.
Even if one qualifies for a family based Green Card, there are still many procedures to follow and risks to overcome. The best way to guide your family through this process is by working with an experienced immigration attorney. A good green card attorney can identify the risks ahead of time and plan ahead to make a family based Green Card application go through as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Certain noncitizens can receive Green Cards through their employment in the United States. Like family based Green Cards, employment based Green Cards are divided into preference categories and there is a limit to how many are given out per year.
The first preference, EB-1 (which stands for Employment Based First Preference), is limited to people who have “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and multinational managers or executives. This category is reserved for only the most talented and capable people in a profession, so an applicant for an EB-1 Green Card must have national or international recognition for superior work performance.
The second preference, EB-2, is for people with advanced degrees or people with exceptional ability in the arts and sciences. Exceptional ability means that the person must have a level of expertise that is significantly higher than what is ordinarily found in that particular field.
The third preference, EB-3, is for people with bachelor’s degrees and some other workers.
The fourth preference, EB-4, is for other certain categories, such as religious workers and former employees of the U.S. government or armed forces.
The fifth preference, EB-5, is for investors who create ten or more jobs in the United States with a qualifying investment.
An experienced green card attorney can help a skilled foreign worker to determine the best employment based category and guide the applicant through the entire process. The process for an EB-2 or EB-3 Green Card is especially complicated because most of the applicants have to go through a process called Labor Certification. In the Labor Certification process, an employer has to show there is no American worker in the area willing and able to do the noncitizen’s job. This is a delicate process that requires complying with many regulations while also taking into account the current job market.
Asylee or Refugee
People who have been granted Asylum in the United States or who have been welcomed in as Refugees are eligible to apply for a Green Card after living one year in the United States. Within two years of receiving status as an asylee or refugee, they can apply to bring their spouses and young, unmarried children to the United States, who are also permitted to apply for Green Cards after one year of living in the United States.
If you are an asylee or refugee and you have questions about how to apply for a Green Card, contact an experienced immigration attorney.
Other Green Card Options
There are a few other ways to qualify for a Green Card outside of the typical categories of family, employment, or refugee/asylum. An immigration attorney can help you determine if there are any other special categories that you might qualify for.
One of the other Green Card options available is called the Diversity Visa. Every year, the United States gives out 50,000 Green Cards to people from countries that have low levels of immigration to the United States. Anyone who is from these countries is eligible to apply for the Diversity Visa, and the 50,000 winners are chosen at random. Contact an immigration attorney if you are interested in applying for the Diversity Visa.
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