Understanding the Immigration Process

Numerous people come to America searching for a better life and more opportunities. Unfortunately, the path to becoming a legal U.S. citizen can be complicated. Many people find the process confusing, overwhelming, and time-consuming. Without help, navigating the complicated red tape associated with the immigration process can seem nearly impossible.

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The knowledgeable immigration lawyers with De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration understand the challenges immigrants face when they enter the country in search of new and better opportunities for themselves and their families. We want to provide immigrants in the Las Vegas area with a comprehensive guide outlining the immigration process and how an experienced immigration attorney can help.

Green Card Process

Moving and permanently relocating to the United States can be a complicated process. To lawfully enter and remain in the country, you must meet specific eligibility requirements, the government must approve your application, and pay all fees associated with the process.

Immigration occurs when someone travels to another country to seek permanent residence there. Immigrating to the United States means you wish to permanently relocate to the country by obtaining a green card and achieving lawful permanent residence. A green card gives you specific rights, allows unrestricted employment, and offers a pathway to U.S. citizenship. Temporary visit, work, and study visas do not offer the same benefits as a green card.

  • Employment-based green card– Employment-based green cards focus on the unique skills you can bring to an American employer. If a company is interested in hiring you, they may choose to sponsor your application. In other cases, you can demonstrate your skills and abilities to apply for an employment green card. There are five categories of employment-based green cards. These green cards should not be confused with work permits, separate documents that only grant marriage-based green card applicants the right to work in the U.S.
  • Family-based green card– Family members of current U.S. residents can often apply for family-based green cards. This visa is called a green card for family-preference immigrants. If an eligible family member holds a green card or is a U.S. citizen, you may be able to apply for a family-based green card. Eligible family members can include spouses, children, parents, and siblings.
  • Humanitarian green card – Humanitarian green cards help protect immigrants who are refugees and asylees fleeing disasters, oppression, and other urgent circumstances.
  • Diversity lottery green cards – The diversity visa program randomly awards immigrant visas to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
  • Special immigrant green cards – Individuals who meet specific criteria can apply for special immigrant green cards. International broadcasters, special immigrant juveniles, religious workers, and others may be eligible to apply for a special immigrant green card.

The federal government also recognizes other categories of green cards depending on an immigrant’s circumstances.

What Are the Green Card Requirements? 

Each category of green card has unique requirements you must meet to be eligible to apply. For example, if you want to apply for a family-based green card, you must prove you are closely related to a green card holder or permanent U.S. resident, in addition to other requirements. Employment-based green cards typically require you to demonstrate extraordinary skills or training in your field.

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements of your specific green card application, you must also pass a background check and a medical examination. The background check tends to focus on police reports and criminal convictions in places the individual has previously lived. The medical examination involves questions about a person’s physical and mental health. It also addresses a person’s history of drug and alcohol use and their history of infectious diseases.

The Application Process 

The immigration application process depends on where you are currently living. There are different standards for individuals living in the U.S. than those living in a foreign country. For immigrants in the United States, you need to file an Adjustment of Status. You can often remain in the country while the government processes your application. Individuals living outside the U.S. must file a Consular Processing application. You can remain in your home country while the U.S. embassy or consulate reviews your application.

What Happens Next? 

The application process has several steps. The process usually requires an individual to submit to a biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center. At the ASC, the person must provide their fingerprints, photograph, and signature. Additionally, immigrants may need to attend an in-person interview to answer questions and affirm the information provided in their application. Finally, an immigrant must be prepared to provide additional evidence or information if requested.

Unfortunately, one of the most challenging parts of the immigration process is waiting. Depending on the circumstances of your case, it can take months to process a green card application. You can keep delays to a minimum by ensuring your application is as thorough and accurate as possible.

When an application is approved, the USCIS sends out a written notice. Later, they will send an official green card. If an application is denied, the agency also sends a written notification outlining the reasons for the denial. At this point, an individual may appeal the decision. Often, a person cannot appeal an Adjustment of Status rejection. However, they can file a motion to reopen or reconsider the application.

Obtaining a green card allows you to remain permanently in the United States. It also opens up a pathway to U.S. citizenship. Typically, immigrants can apply for citizenship three to five years after receiving a green card.

Are there Consequences to Entering and Remaining in the Country Without a Green Card?

Yes. There are repercussions for immigrants who overstay a visa or remain in the country illegally. Fines, deportation, and jail time are potential consequences for immigrants.

Contact a Knowledgeable Law Vegas Immigration Attorney Today 

Applying for a green card can be daunting. Thankfully, the Las Vegas immigration attorneys with De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration can help you navigate the complicated process of seeking a green card. We have a long track record of obtaining favorable results and are proud to be one of the first firms in the area with a staff fluent in Spanish to help better address the needs of our diverse clients.

Need help applying for a green card? Contact our Las Vegas office today to arrange a confidential legal consultation.