Green Cards are highly sought after because they provide lawful, permanent United States residency, unlike visas. As a result, it’s notoriously difficult to obtain a Green Card. If you are considering pursuing a Green Card, first speak with our experienced immigration lawyer Austin TX to advise you.
Green Card Eligibility
If you wish is to reside in the United States permanently, a Green Card is for you. The proper term for a Green Card holder is “lawful permanent resident.” Once obtaining your Green Card, with a bit of patience, you can eventually become a naturalized US citizen.
Every year, approximately six million people apply for a Green Card. Only about one million people will end up receiving one. The competition is fierce. Having an immigration lawyer Austin TX by your side significantly increases your odds of being one of the lucky Green Card recipients. To apply for a Green Card, you must fall into one of the following eligibility categories:
- employment: for “priority workers” (those with extraordinary ability in the sciences, art, education, business, or athletics, outstanding researchers or professors and certain multinational managers, and executives.” Lower priority extends to certain classes of physicians and investors.
- family: for “immediate relatives” meaning any spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents over 21 are given priority. However, adult &/or married children and siblings are eligible with lower priority.
- refugee or asylum status: must have already received either refugee or asylum status. In both instances, refugees and asylees are eligible after one year of relevant status change.
- special immigrant status: for certain religious workers, special immigrant juveniles who have suffered abuse, international broadcasters, and members of select international organizations like NATO.
- victims of abuse: for VAWA self-petitioners, special immigrant juveniles, and those who have been abused, abandoned, and assigned to this status by the US court system.
- human trafficking or crime victims: for those who have T nonimmigrant visas and U nonimmigrant visas.
- through the registry: for those who have lived in the US since 1/1/72, are of upstanding moral character, are eligible for naturalization, and have no bars to adjustment.
- other categories
In virtually every situation, Green Card applicants are required to have a sponsor. Sponsors must submit documents effectively advocating and petitioning for the applicant. Depending on which eligibility category you’re applying under, sponsors may be a family member, an employer, or a third party. To qualify, sponsors must be:
- at least 21 years old
- either a US citizen or permanent resident
- able to verify sufficient income and net worth to support themselves, other family members, and the applicant
- willing to sign an affidavit of support (either for 40 quarters (if an employer) or ten years)
Additional documentation is generally required to become a Green Card sponsor, particularly for employers seeking to sponsor an employee. If you are considering sponsoring an employee or a family member, prepare yourself for the process by speaking with our immigration lawyer Austin TX.
Bars to Adjustment
There are several reasons someone may be ineligible to apply for a Green Card; this ineligibility is known as “bars to adjustment.” If one or more bars of adjustment apply to an applicant, they are unlikely to receive a Green Card. Some bars to adjustment include:
- violation of visa terms or restrictions
- criminal convictions both in the US and abroad
- previous terroristic activities or ties
- engagement in unauthorized employment
If you think you may be ineligible to apply for a Green Card, consult our immigration lawyer Austin TX to discuss more options for residency.
Obtain Your Green Card
Regardless of which eligibility category you apply with, you will have to complete one of two processes:
- Consular processing: if you are outside of the US, you can visit a US consulate abroad to apply
- Adjustment of status: if you are already present in the US, you can apply to adjust your current immigration status to a lawful permanent resident
Consular processing is most often faster, less expensive, and more reliable. However, those who go through consular processing may be barred from the US while their application is pending.
Green Card Benefits
While a Green Card doesn’t extend the full rights of a US citizen, you do enjoy additional benefits other visa holders do not. Including:
- ability to apply for citizenship after five years
- travel in and out of the US with added ease
- sponsor certain relatives for Green Cards or visas
- renew your Green Card every ten years
- spend less on college, university, or vocational school tuition
Hire an Immigration Lawyer Austin TX
Acquiring a Green Card is the gateway to building a permanent life in America. The application is a serious undertaking that is daunting at times. Applicants should seek counsel to avoid application errors or omissions which lead to unnecessary denials.
Give us a call for a free consultation, and we’ll begin preparing you for the application process.
Our clients receive individualized attention from an attorney, not an assistant or paralegal. Although we handle a wide range of legal issues, our attorneys are limited to practicing a few practice areas to give you the specialized care you need. We are compassionate attorneys that will listen closely to ensure your voice is heard and to implement potential strategies that most other attorney will miss. Call us for a free consult with our immigration attorney to see why we vastly differ than most law firms.
- seeking the relief you need
- evaluating and tailoring a creative strategy for your individual case
- explaining the nuances and subtleties of the law in a clear and concise manner
- effectively communicating with you in a way that will exceed your expectations
- and aggressively protecting and defending your rights
We understand times are tough and that there probably hasn’t been a tougher time in your life. Although we could get away with charging exuberant amounts, we prefer not to as we are a law firm by the people, for the people. We do not want you to worry about whether you can afford to hire an Immigration Lawyer Austin TX to protect and defend your rights. Call us for Immigration consult and be surprised at the quality you receive compared to what other Austin law firms will quote you!
Accordingly, the attorneys at AZ Law Firm will always provide you with a free initial consultation. During this initial consultation, our criminal lawyers will evaluate your case, inform you of any legal options that may be available, and allow you to ask any questions that you may have. AZ Law Firm offers affordable rates for all our clients and will work with you on payment plans. Our firm accepts checks, debit cards, and most major credit cards to cover the costs of your legal representation.