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Seeking Legal Permanent Residence in the United States?
At the Law Offices of Shamieh, Shamieh & Ternieden, we have helped numerous clients navigate the process of obtaining a green card. We also assist individuals who wish to petition a family member, such as a spouse, child, or another relative.
If you wish to remain in the United States for a long period of time, it is likely in your best interests to obtain a green card. Because every situation is unique and the laws regarding lawful permanent residence are complex and often changing, it’s wise to seek out an experienced green card attorney in San Francisco. With more than 45 combined years spent assisting with immigration legal issues, our firm is prepared to help you with your case.
What is a Green Card?
A Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued by the United States government to non-citizens that grants them the legal right to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Additionally, becoming a lawful permanent resident is generally required should you wish to pursue citizenship through naturalization later on.
Here are some key points to consider about Green Cards:
- Green Cards are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- They are valid for ten years and can be renewed
- Green Card holders are eligible for most government benefits, including Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare
- Green Card holders can work in the U.S. without restriction and can start a business
- Green Card holders are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of permanent residence
- Green Card holders must pay taxes on all income earned in the U.S.
- Green Card holders are subject to U.S. laws, including immigration laws
- The U.S. Constitution protects green Card holders
- Green Card holders are eligible to have a U.S. passport.
What Is Required To Obtain A Green Card?
For those who dream of immigrating to the United States, you are well aware that you must have a green card if you wish to become a permanent resident of this country. To apply for a green card, however, you must be eligible under one of several different categories.
If you are not eligible under any of the following categories, you might not be able to apply for a green card:
- Special immigrant
- Asylum or refugee status
- Victim of human trafficking
- Victim of abuse
Although these are the main categories under which most individuals applying for a green category must be eligible, there are a variety of other circumstances in which you might also be eligible. For example, the Cuban Adjustment Act allows Cuban natives or citizens or the spouses of Cuban natives or citizens to apply for a green card. Consult with an attorney to find out if you are eligible.
How Do You Get a Green Card?
The process of filing for a green card is complex and can take years before it is successfully granted. Moreover, the U.S. Department of State only processes a certain number of green cards and visas every year, which is why the wait time is often so prolonged.
Applying for a green card can be a complicated and difficult process. A skilled immigration attorney can help. There are several avenues for obtaining a green card and becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Typically, the process consist of completing two forms - an immigration petition (family or employment petition) and a Green Card application (Form I-485).
Petitions are usually filed by the petitioner and in some cases you may be eligible to petition for yourself. While your case is pending, you can check online for updates, using your Form I-485 receipt to look up the status of your case.
While the information here provides a brief overview of some of the more common ways in which immigrants are able to obtain green cards, it’s best to discuss the specifics of your situation with one of our attorneys.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Green Card?
Every situation is different, whether you are trying to obtain permanent residency for a family member or if you are trying to obtain an employment based visa. The time frame is dependent on how many applicants have already filed. The following is on average on how long it may take to get a green card:
- Family Green Cards - Processing times can be from 1 to 10 years depending on the wait and yearly caps.
- Employment Based Green Cards - Processing times can be from 1 to 6 years depending on demand.
Because the United States has a certain number of caps the wait time varies for each case. Our San Francisco green card attorneys can help you get started with an application and guide you throughout your journey.
Some of the main avenues for obtaining lawful permanent residence include:
- Family Petition: A U.S. citizen may petition their family member, including a spouse, child, parent, sibling, or another relative. For “immediate relatives” (as defined by the law), there is no limit on the number of available visas, meaning there is no wait time one a petition is approved. For non-immediate relatives, there may be a waiting period after a petition is approved, as there is a limited number of visas.
- Employment Petition: It may be possible to obtain lawful permanent residence as a foreign worker through an employment petition. There are several different kinds of visas available to immigrant workers, depending on a person’s unique circumstances. Additionally, you may be able to obtain an employment petition as an investor if you meet the necessary requirements.
- Diversity Lottery: Every year, the United States randomly selects entries from immigrants who wish to move to the U.S. from countries that have a low rate of immigration. There are about 50,000 immigrant visas available each year. In order to be eligible for the diversity lottery, you must meet certain requirements set forth by the Department of State.
- Asylum: You may be able to obtain lawful permanent residence in the U.S. if you are granted asylum. In order to be eligible for asylum or refugee status, you must meet certain requirements. Additionally, in order to obtain a green card as a refugee, you must have lived in the U.S. for at least one year after being admitted for refugee status.
As mentioned above, these are just some of the ways in which you may be able to obtain a green card. To learn more about your specific options, contact a San Francisco green card attorney at our firm today.
What Happens After it is Granted?
If you are a permanent resident 18 years of age or older, you must have your green card on you at all times. Moreover, not all green cards have the same shelf life, so make sure you understand how frequently you must renew yours. If you lose your green card, you must apply to have it replaced as soon as possible. The process of replacing a green card is not as straightforward as it might sound, so make sure you secure legal assistance for this process as well. It is possible to have your application for a replacement green card denied, so make sure you get this done properly the first time to avoid having your application denied.
How to Renew or Replace a Green Card
After obtaining your green card, it's important to remember that you generally must replace it after 10 years or if it is lost, stolen, or damaged. In order to replace or renew a green card, permanent residents can file form I-90.
If you have a conditional permanent resident card, you will not be able to renew your green card and you must remove your conditions after two years. If you immigrated to the U.S. for family-based reasons, you would file Form I-751, also known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.
For those who immigrated as an investor or entrepreneur, you would file Form I-829, also known as the Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions.
Additionally, those who have a green card can take trips outside the U.S. for less than one year and use their green card for valid readmission. For longer periods abroad, you would need a reentry permit.
Penalties for Green Card Marriage Fraud
It can be tempting to obtain a green card through a fraudulent marriage. However, severe penalties exist if you are found committing marriage fraud for a green card by USCIS. These penalties include a 5 year stay in federal prison as well as a fine of $250,000.
Our San Fancisco Green Car Lawyers Can Help
At the Law Offices of Shamieh, Shamieh & Ternieden, we understand U.S. immigration laws. For nearly three decades, we’ve been helping clients update their immigration status to lawfully enter and stay in the United States.
With personal backgrounds navigating the process, our immigration lawyers have a first-hand understanding of how daunting the system can be. We offer our clients compassionate, personalized legal guidance from start to finish. We take the time to keep you informed and up-to-date on your case. Our team can act as your trusted advocates.
To learn more about how you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident, call us at (415) 300-2144. We can assist you in Arabic, English, Spanish, Cantonese, or Portuguese.
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