Welcome to the United States! Every year, more than one million immigrants arrive in the U.S., and many of them decide to stay. Additionally, thousands of others make the same decision while living abroad. If you are one of the individuals who choose to apply for a Permanent Resident Card, which is also known as a Green Card, there are different channels to do so, but it can be quite an endeavor. That said, you do not have to go through it alone. Fortunately, there are resources available that can make the process easier.
1. Do You Want Legal Representation?
Although the law does not require you to seek out the help of a legal professional, it can be a good idea to at least reach out to a firm for advice. As one of the most immigrant-friendly places in the country, the Windy City has numerous options to choose from. For this reason, it should not be difficult to find an experienced immigration lawyer in Chicago who can help you work out the specifics of your case.
2. How Are You Applying?
In the U.S., there are several ways you can become eligible for permanent residency. At this time, you may apply under the following categories:
- As a relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- As an employee of a U.S. company
- As a Special Immigrant, refugee or asylee
- As a victim of abuse, trafficking or other crimes
- As a long-term undocumented resident
If any of these relate to your situation, you may be eligible to start your application. An attorney can also help you figure out which categories may be applicable to you.
3. Do You Have All Required Documentation?
One of the most taxing parts of the entire application process can sometimes be collecting proper documents. Depending on which category you decide to apply under, the specific documents you need may vary. In general, you can expect to supply your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), financial statements, proof of sponsor’s legal status, proof of lawful entry, current or expired visas, educational records and your medical examination results. In addition, if any of your documentation is not in English, you will need to find a place to provide professional translations.
4. Are You Ready To Wait?
Another challenging aspect of applying for a Green Card is the inevitable wait time applicants face. If your sponsor is a U.S. citizen, you can expect to have a shorter wait, but it can still take U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services anywhere from 10-17 months to process applications. On the other hand, if your sponsor is a permanent resident, things can take even longer. In these situations, you may have to wait 23-38 months before you have your Green Card.
5. What Is Your Plan for Work?
A big step in becoming a permanent resident of the U.S. is having the legal ability to work here. Although a work permit application can be another expensive process itself, you can sometimes save time and money by applying for the permit at the time of your Green Card application.
Obtaining permanent residency is not easy, but that does not mean it is impossible. By using the resources available and working with an attorney, you can simplify the process.
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