Green card laws, and specifically, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the change of an individual’s immigration status while in the United States from nonimmigrant or parolee (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) if the individual was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States and is able to meet all required qualifications for a green card (permanent residence) in a particular category. The common term for a change to permanent status or green card is adjustment of status.
Green card laws provide for two ways to obtain a permanent resident status or green card. Adjustment of status is the process by which an alien already in the United States can get permanent resident status, or green card without having to return to his/her home country to complete visa processing.
Consular processing is an alternate process for an individual outside the United States (or who is in the United States but is ineligible to adjust status) to obtain a visa abroad and enter the United States as a permanent resident or green card holder. Different steps govern petition for a green card while in the United States and abroad. First, it is important to determine a specific immigrant category through which an applicant can receive a green card. Most immigrants receive green cards through a petition filed on their behalf by a family member or employer. Once the right immigrant category is determined, an applicant and the immigrant’s petitioner must file an immigrant petition.
Family based green card petitions require a United States citizen or permanent resident relative to Petition for Alien Relative. Green card through employment requires an intended U.S. employer to file a Petition for Alien Worker. In addition, businessmen and investors with significant funds who want to invest into a business enterprise in the United States may file Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. In some cases, certain immigrants may file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant, or have one filed on their behalf. In some cases, an immigrant may qualify for a humanitarian program. Most humanitarian programs do not require a petition, although individuals may need to meet additional requirements before they can apply for a green card.
Green card application or Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status maybe filed at the same time as a family or employer based petition. Many immigrant categories, however, require that an immigrant first establish his/her eligibility for the immigrant visa category by having an approved petition before an alien is allowed to file his/her application for green card. To determine the best way for you to immigrate contact our office. Our immigration attorneys will discuss your facts and the law to determine the best option for your immigration needs.