A green card is a Permanency Resident Card or USCIS Form I-551 which allows a non-US citizen to live and work in the United States legally. It is not an ID card that enables you to be a US citizen but it is a step in the right direction. A green card is informally called a “green card” because it originally was green from 1946 up to 1964 and then again starting in 2010.
The most common and simplest way to obtain a green card is through family members who are living in the US legally as permanent residents or US citizens. The basic requirements to apply for a green card as the immediate relative of a US citizen are:
- You must be single and under the age of 21.
- You are a parent of a US citizen who is over 21.
- Your spouse is a US citizen.
- Special family situations like being an abused child or spouse, or a widower or widow of a US citizen, and if you are a foreign diplomat and your child is born in the US.
There are different forms for relatives living in the US as an alien and for relatives living outside the country although the procedure is similar. Thus, you can break it down to sponsorship or humanitarian reasons for applying for a green card.
4 Steps to Applying
- The US citizen must file a form with the USCIS of his intention to sponsor a family member. Supporting documents should be submitted that validate the relationship otherwise the petition will be denied outright.
- If this application is approved, the form moves forward and the US consul or embassy of the relative is informed.
- Once the application is approved at the US consul or embassy, this is when the wait starts. Unfortunately, it can last for years and years. An application that has been approved must wait for its “priority date,” which refers to the line of limited visas being made available under this category. Also, every approved application is filed under 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th preference. If your visa is filed under 4th preference, you get filed under last consideration because you are a sibling or you are over 21 years.
- Once a visa is available, your relative will be informed and more documents have to be submitted before an interview is scheduled. If everything is in order, the green card is issued.
The most important tip to remember is to be honest with every bit of information you provide and to never give the authorities any reason to doubt your sincerity. Fake documents and falsified information will land you and your US relative in very hot water. By following the above steps and being patient, you too can obtain a green card for yourself or one of your beloved family members. Then, you’ll be one step closer to becoming a US citizen, if it is your desire to do so. Either way, good luck to you!
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