There are two primary ways for immigrants to apply for lawful permanent residence: adjustment of status which takes place in the United States, and consular processing which requires that the applicant apply for residence at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in her home country. As a general matter, a person may apply for adjustment of status if her last entry into the United States was legal, or if she is the beneficiary of an immigrant petition or application for labor certification that was filed on or before April 30, 2001. However, other individuals who live in the United States and are undocumented or otherwise have no status may only apply for lawful permanent residence through consular processing.
There are several bases for applying for lawful permanent residence, including family, employment, investment and through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. Your attorney will help you determine the appropriate basis for applying for a “green card” depending on the specific facts of your case. Your attorney must also determine if there are any factors which may negatively affect your application, such as prior arrests, convictions, immigration detentions, and removal orders, which may put you at risk of being placed in removal proceedings or removed.
Family Based Petitions
The immigration system of the United States is largely based on family unification. As such, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may petition for certain family members in order to obtain lawful status for their loved ones. As a general matter, U.S. citizens can petition on behalf of their spouses, fiancés(ées), parents, married and unmarried minor and adult children, and siblings. Additionally, “green card” holders can petition on behalf of their spouses, and unmarried minor and adult children.
Establishing the requisite family relationship is the first step. However, a determination must also be made as to the proper procedure to follow in the application process. The facts applicable to the beneficiary will largely determine if he can apply for immigration relief in the United States through adjustment of status, or if he will have to travel to his country of birth through consular processing. Further, the wait times for the processing of petitions vary depending on the family relationship and on the country of origin of the beneficiary. Additionally, a determination must be made if the immigration or criminal history of the beneficiary, and in some cases the petitioner, warrant that an investigation first be conducted, or if a motion to reopen an immigration court case is required.
Employment & Investment Based Visas
Certain individuals may apply for lawful permanent residence through an employer or as investors. As with any applications, the specific facts of your case will determine the viability, wait time and likelihood of success of your application. For employment based visas, factors that must be considered include the employer’s business, the applicant’s education and skill level and whether there are no U.S. workers eligible to fill the position your employer is seeking to fill with you. For investment based visas, factors that must be considered include whether the applicant will invest significant funds in the United States (generally ranging from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the location of the investment) and whether the investor will create and maintain at least 10 employment positions for U.S workers. Both employment and investment based visa applications have stringent requirements and are document intensive. As such, prospective applicants should consult with an immigration attorney in order to ensure that your application complies with all requirements at every stage of the application process.
Diversity Immigration Visa Program / “Green Card Lottery”
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the “Green Card Lottery”, is a lottery program through which applicants can receive lawful permanent residence. The lottery is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The “Green Card Lottery” makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Contact the Franco Law Group today to schedule an appointment to discuss your options for applying for lawful permanent residence. Our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in representing clients throughout the application process and will help you determine which application basis is most appropriate for you.