What is a Green Card?

Permanent residency in the United States for noncitizens can be established through what is known as a “permanent residency card,” which is more commonly referred to as a “green card.” A green card allows those from other countries to live and work in the U.S. After meeting legal provisions, a green card will also allow you to become a U.S. citizen. Our immigration attorney is a board-certified specialist and will explain how all the necessary qualifications can be met. She will also assist applicants with the entire process from commencement to conclusion, where you, the applicant, obtain your permanent residency status. 

Green Card Application Categories and What They Mean

Applying for a green card begins with selecting a category under which to file an application. With the help of our Orange County-based immigration lawyer, this process will not have to be stressful. Below are some helpful facts about the various categories through which one can apply, as well as common reasons for a green card denial.

1. Sponsorship by a Relative

A foreigner can be sponsored by a spouse or other relative in order to eventually acquire U.S. residency. Relatives who can file on behalf of a non-citizen include a spouse, parent, child or sibling who is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. or is a U.S. citizen. Having an immigration attorney file the required petition is the first step to acquiring a family-based category green card.

 2. Employment-Based Green Card

One of the most common ways to obtain permanent residency in the United States is through an employment-based green card. Approximately 140,000 applicants obtain green cards through employment categories each year, with the EB-1 being the first preference among these categories. Under the EB-1, applicants are classified as “priority workers.” To qualify for an EB-1 green card, the applicant has to possess extraordinary skills. Proof will be required as evidence of the applicant’s superior skills in business, education, art, science or athletics.

Other subcategories of the employment-based green card include the EB-2, EB-3 and EB-4, which require having an advanced degree, being a skilled worker, or being a religious worker, respectively. An immigration lawyer can identify the subcategory and begin the process, or, in some cases, bona fide employers can initiate the petition if they can show proof that no U.S. workers are available to fill the position. 

Book a consultation with our experienced immigration attorney to learn additional information about employment-based green cards that may be more relevant to your case.

 3. Asylum or Refugee Category

There are also alternative avenues in which individuals can apply for a green card after a period of time. The asylum or refugee category, for example, specifically caters to individuals who have left their current country due to unforeseen circumstances that make it dangerous for them to return. Those seeking asylum are only eligible to apply for a green card after one year of being granted an asylee status. We would recommend consulting a qualified attorney for additional and up-to-date information to assist you with the process.

 4. Diversity Visa

The U.S. Department of State administers the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which randomly selects individuals to win an immigrant visa to the U.S.  According to USCIS, up to 50,000 immigrant visas are awarded each year, specifically to randomly selected individuals from countries with a low U.S. immigration rate. 

Obtaining a Green Card is a Two-Step Process

The process of obtaining a green-card is also known as the naturalization process – the pathway green card-holders take to becoming U.S. citizens. The process consists of filing documents under one of the categories mentioned above and undergoing an interview. The interview is considered a vetting process, and it can be held inside or outside the U.S. Interviews held within the United States are for “adjustment of status.” Applicants outside the U.S. must undergo a consular interview. Having the assistance of a lawyer during these steps is the best way to ensure the most successful outcome possible.

Processing Times in Acquiring a Green Card

Several factors affect the processing time for visa applications. Though the time frame can vary widely, the best way to expedite the process is to place the application in the hands of a legal expert. The caseload of the service center processing the petition will also have an effect on wait times as well. If it is a particularly busy center, it may take longer to have the petition processed. The complexity of the applicant’s case is the second factor that can significantly influence the time frame for naturalization. The “priority date” impacts the timing as well, but is based on the applicant’s country of origin. Individuals can visit the USCIS website here to find the most up-to-date processing times for their specific application and center. 

Green Card Denials Are on the Rise in California

Those applying for a green card should know that availability is limited to 675,000 immigrant visas per year, while any unissued family-based green cards are transferred to the following year’s employment-based green card category. Although a high percentage of applications are approved, just under 11% of naturalization applicants were denied for FY 2021. The following are four primary reasons for delay or denial:

  • Falsifying an application
  • Committing a crime
  • Failing to provide supporting documents
  • Evidence of a previous U.S. immigration violation

At the Law Offices of Wiliani-Malek, we screen your petition and/or application from the very beginning in order to prevent any denial or delay for inadmissibility or removability. 

If an applicant’s green card application is initially denied, our office will file a motion to reopen the case or file an appeal, both of which will have a higher chance of success with the expertise of our experienced immigration attorney.

A conditional green card is valid for two years while a permanent green card is valid for 10 years, with options to renew as necessary. Applicants must meet certain qualifications to keep their card valid, which is mainly done by maintaining their U.S. residency and avoiding criminal convictions. 

Because only a limited number of green cards are issued each year, starting the application process as soon as possible is imperative. The Law Offices of Wiliani-Malek can assist applicants to present documentation accurately, and by doing so, avoid various pitfalls that could interfere with the applicant’s eligibility or slow their process to naturalization.


Additional Facts About Green Card Validity

How the Law Offices of Wiliani-Malek Can Help You Apply for a Green Card

The Law Offices of Wiliani-Malek in Santa Ana offer expert services for those seeking a permanent alien-registration card. Applicants who desire a smooth and prompt approval process will be highly satisfied with our services. We also address complex issues, including appeals and denials; our firm has a history of resolving various complicated cases. 

With more than two decades of experience, we have earned a sterling reputation for giving personal attention to all our clients at each stage of their U.S. immigration journey. Those who want to become naturalized, but are wondering how to apply for a green card, should make an appointment with us as soon as possible. Call us now at 714-432-1333!

Retaining an Immigration Lawyer Is an Important Decision

Let Law Offices of Wiliani-Malek Help You