Green card or permanent residence status is a goal of many. To get a green card you need to qualify for it under the Immigration laws of the United States. Currently, the Immigration reform drafters are trying to create new or simplify the existing paths to a green card and citizenship, as the existing immigration laws make it more impossible than possible for one to receive the status. Here are the most typical ways of getting permanent resident status or green card:
US Immigration – No Status to Green Card Made Simple
Working in the field of US immigration for over 10 years has taught me a lot when it comes to what I can do to help people fix their status. I have read almost every legal decision and case law regarding US Immigration from the USCIS policy memos and BIA decisions to Federal court orders and helped thousands of clients fix their status. Many consider me to be a top expert on the subject of US immigration, and I have appeared on different news channels to discuss what the recent changes to immigration policy mean for the people living in the US. Figuring out if a person is eligible to adjust their status is a complicated process. Most experienced immigration lawyers can analyze a person’s situation in 45-90 minutes, the average analysis taking about one (1) hour.
Over the years, I have come to realize that when my staff or I tell a person that there is a fee for the hour needed to consult them, the most common response people looking to adjust their status to a permanent resident (get a green card) have is “I have no problem paying your fee, but first, please can you tell me if I have a chance to get a green card.” Unfortunately, the answer to that question comes after about an hour of back and forth questions and answers. Most of the information people are looking for, though, is right here on this website! Second, to USCIS.gov, my website is probably the most comprehensive website on US Immigration. The difference between my website USCIS’ website is that I try to explain the meaning behind the legal documents and decisions without using as little of the legal jargon as possible, that takes years of training to understand. Using my experience over 10 years, I have developed this questionnaire that can point you to further resources on my site that can help you answer that scary question “Do I have a chance?”
There are approximately 15,000 lawyers in the United States who are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), an association with a reputation for lawyers that dedicate most of their practice to immigration law. On Avvo.com, there are slightly over 900 well-reviewed lawyers practicing immigration without any misconduct. Currently, in the US, there are an estimated 10 million (10,000,000) undocumented immigrants, most of which are estimated to live in New York and California. If only 1 million undocumented immigrants were to ask this question evenly to all the reputable lawyers in New York, it would take slightly over 1,000 hours, or 6 months of work from each lawyer to properly consult everyone, for free. Obviously, we cannot do this, but what we can do is make the information easily understandable and accessible to those that need it. This questionnaire is not meant to replace a full consultation or legal advice and understand that while I try to make everything very simple on this site if you make a mistake answering a question here, it could result in a very different outcome. Here it is:
1. Do you have any criminal convictions from any country?
Mind that not all convictions present an issue. Petty offenses may be forgiven automatically, and at times “deportable” convictions can be disregarded for adjustment cases where admissibility and not deportability matters. The “worst” convictions to have are the ones related to controlled substances, as usually those convictions cannot be waived.
a.i. If your conviction an “aggravated felony” you may be having a very hard time adjusting unless your conviction will also be a CMIT and you will qualify for a narrowly tailored waiver. Check here for waivers and options available for Non-immigrant visas before proceeding to the next section
a.ii. If your conviction is not an aggravated felony – Check out our 212 Hardship Waiver Page before proceeding to the next section
Do not give up if you have a conviction that may present an issue. U visa, VAWA, and Non-immigrant visas may help you to overcome difficult situations. Perhaps, a pardon or even a private bill may help as well. You will need to work with a lawyer, however, to resolve this issue and find the definite answer as a good answer will rely on the record of conviction: certificate of disposition and minutes of guilty plea.
b. No – Great, proceed to the next section.
2. When you entered the United States, did you enter legally?
a. Yes, I entered with a Visa – Great, proceed to the next section
b. Yes, I entered with a Parole Document – Please review the recent policy memo and article on Parole as a legal entry before proceeding to the next section
c. Yes, I entered through a legal port of entry – Please review the definition of a legal port of entry and which one’s USCIS is considering a legal port of entry, and which one’s the BIA is considering a legal port of entry. Please note, the BIA makes the final decisions; however, to get to the BIA, USCIS must wrongfully deny the case.
d. No, I entered without inspection (crossing the border) – Check out our I-601A Waiver page
e. No, I entered using someone else’s documents – Check our I-601A Waiver page and our Visa Fraud: Harmful effect page to see if the documents you used will disqualify you.
Even if you are not sure if something is considered a crime if someone did something bad to you in the past and you are willing to help the police investigate the matter, check out our Victim of a Crime page. Filing for a green card based on a victim of a crime has many benefits, which can be found in the link above; the most beneficial is that it waves illegal entry.
5. Have you been a victim of trafficking?
Trafficking victims are very often hesitant to come forward; some do not even realize that they have been trafficked. If you have been working for someone because they brought you to the country for less than you deserve; forced to live and pay rent in the home of a person because they brought you to the country; or have had to send money to someone in the US or back home to pay to bring you to this country and threatened in any way because of this: check out our page on Victims of Trafficking.
6. Were you married to a US Citizen who was abusive to you?
Please check out our VAWA page. Please note, though it is called the “Violence Against Women Act,” VAWA is available to anyone who has been a victim of abuse from a US Citizen with immediate relative ties, regardless of gender. It is available for spouses, children, and parents!
7. Now, there are more ways to adjust reserved for specific groups of individuals:
Check out NACARA Relief that may help even those with Permanent Bar! Check out our page on possible solutions for Permanent Bars
Now, you also need to keep in mind that your options will vary depending on (1) if you have ever been in removal proceedings or you are in removal/deportation proceedings now. You can check our Deportation/Removal defense page to see if you find anything that may be relevant for your situation; (2) if you have other bars of inadmissibility (multiple entries into the US; unlawful voting; claiming US citizenship; marital support of a terrorist organization, etc. (3) and of course, if a public charge rule may present an issue for your case. You can read more about recent situation with pubic charge and affidavit of support here.
Only after an attorney, collects all this and more information from a potential client, an attorney can have an opinion about a person’s chances to receive status in the United States. Do not forget that also, the answer may depend on if a person has ever had TPS status, Deferred action, or some other type of humanitarian relief, and believe it or not, the place of residence for the potential applicant! The way Immigration laws are applied varies from state to state! Please call us at 917-885-2261 if you need a consultation still, or book it here.
In many instances, an applicant for green who is in the United States will have to go through the process called adjustment of status and will have to appear for an interview before an immigration officer. The interview is an important step, and if it is not passed, the application for adjustment of status will be denied.
It is not necessary to appear for an interview with an immigration lawyer, but the truth is that the success rate of applications where the person is represented is much higher compared to those where the applicant appears by himself. Also, if you cannot afford an attorney to accompany you to the interview, you may at least meet him/her for a consultation and learn about the process and what to expect at the immigration interview.
If the interview is passed, the immigration officer will stamp the applicant passport with a seal that acts as a temporary green card and allows the applicant to travel freely in and out of the country.
Usually, dependents of the green card applicant can receive a green card together with the main applicant. However, the laws are not simple and the attorney’s advice must be sought to make sure the dependents will qualify as well. To learn more about the laws in connection with immigration of children you can read here: Who Is A Child For Immigration Purposes.
Green Card and EAD
If the process is successful, the green card will be mailed to the applicant’s address. A permanent resident shall have it on him at all times. A green cardholder does not need an employment authorization to work, and he or she shall change the social security card to one without restrictions.
Green Card and Travel
The green card holder may travel to and from the US freely, and all he/she needs to return back is the green card itself. However, other countries may require a green card holder to present a valid passport to enter their countries. If the green card is lost abroad, the person may obtain a boarding foil from the US consulate abroad and return back to the US. Read more about it here: Transportation Letter Or Boarding Foil.
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