Many people who want to move to another country first consider moving to the United States. The United States is a country that offers many opportunities to work and settle. The economic prosperity of the United States attracts tourists and potential immigrants from all over the world. How do I get a green card?
A green card is a document that allows you to live permanently in the United States. With a green card, you can immigrate to any state in the United States, find a job, earn an income, and settle with your family.
It also allows you to travel to and from the United States. However, you cannot stay outside the United States for more than one year. If you do not, your green card will expire and you will have to reapply for it.
What are the Types of Green Cards for USA?
There are different types of U.S. green cards, depending on your situation and how you obtained them. Basically, there are four categories of green cards and each category has its own visas and requirements.
- Family Sponsored Green Card – You can get this green card if you have close relatives in the United States and want to be reunited with them. This type of green card is only issued to immediate family members such as spouses, children, siblings, and parents of U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.
- Employment Sponsored Green Card – This green card is issued when you have found a job in the U.S. from your home country. Your employer pays for the paperwork and application process and sponsors you to stay in the U.S. With an employment sponsored green card, you are tied to that employer and must work for that company until the contract ends. Only after the terms of your sponsorship are met can you find another job with another employer.
- Returning Resident Green Card – This green card is for people who previously had a green card but traveled outside the U.S. and did not return for more than one year for reasons beyond their control. Unavoidable reasons include being detained in another country or not being allowed to return for family or cultural reasons. In order to qualify for this visa, you must prove with various documents that you did not have the opportunity to return.
- Diversity Visa Green Card – Each year, the United States holds a lottery for visas for citizens of countries with low immigration rates to the United States. If you enter this lottery and receive a diversity visa, you are eligible to apply for a green card.
Do I Qualify to Apply for a Green Card?
There are several requirements that must be met in order to apply for a U.S. Green Card. While each U.S. immigrant visa has its own requirements that must be met, there are also a few requirements for each visa as listed below:
- Residency Abroad – Most individuals applying for a green card must do so from their home country. If you are in the United States, there are additional requirements that must be met.
- If you are in the United States, you must have a “dual intent” visa. A dual intent visa is a temporary visa that allows you to apply for a green card after a certain period of time. An example of a dual intent visa is the H-1B visa.
- For a family-based green card, you must have a family member living in the United States. The family member must be a fiancé/spouse, a child, a sibling, or a biological or adoptive parent. The family member must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and must be willing to support your application. You must also show that the family member is able to support you financially for a few months after you arrive in the United States until you find a job.
- The family member must be at least 21 years old and have a valid address in the United States. If your family member is under 21, you cannot sponsor them for a green card. In addition, the family member must currently live in the U.S. and provide a valid U.S. address to which you would move after receiving your green card.
- For an employment-based green card, you must have a job offer. If you have found a job in the US, you must have proof of that job. This includes a signed contract or letter from your employer stating when you will start work after receiving your green card. Verbal agreements will not be accepted by any U.S. agency regarding your green card, so make sure you have valid documentation proving that you have a job in the U.S.
- Your employer must meet minimum financial stability requirements. Even if you have a job, you need to make sure that your employer has sufficient funds to pay you a salary. The U.S. agency responsible for green cards and immigrant visas will require a financial report from the company sponsoring your visa. If the financial reports show that your employer does not have sufficient funds to pay your salary, you will not be approved for a green card.
- If you have resided in the United States in the past, you must comply with all laws and regulations and not have overstayed.
- You must also not have a criminal record.
How to Apply for a Green Card?
Once you have identified the types of U.S. immigrant visas, reviewed the requirements, and determined which visas you can apply for, you must begin the green card process. For most green card applications, you will need to take several steps, including.
Have a sponsor petition for you
Your sponsor must file the petition on your behalf. A family-sponsored petition is Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relatives) and an employment-based petition is Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker).
The petition must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the green card fee paid.
Receive the NVC Package
Once your petition is approved, NVC will send you a packet – USCIS will review your petition and determine if you qualify. If USCIS approves your petition, your documents will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) and NVC will send a packet to your country of residence.
This packet contains all the instructions and forms you need to fill out for your application. The NVC will not send this packet until your priority date is up to date.
Apply for a visa at the US embassy
You will apply for your visa at the U.S. Embassy in your country of residence by following the instructions in your NVC packet and paying the required application fee.
You will be required to submit the necessary application documents and attend an interview.
Travel to the United States
Once all procedures are completed and your visa is approved, you will receive an arrival packet from the U.S. Embassy.
You cannot open the arrival packet, but must bring it with you on your first trip to the United States. Only the U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry can open the arrival packet and decide if you are allowed to enter the United States.
Remember, a visa does not mean you will be allowed to enter the United States. It is the immigration officer at each U.S. port of entry who has the authority to make the decision.
Once you enter the U.S., you must file a Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) with USCIS. This application is used to ensure that you receive a permanent resident card. After USCIS processes your application, which can take anywhere from one to four weeks, your green card will be mailed to you.
Traveling Abroad as a Green Card Holder
Green card holders are limited in how long they can stay outside of the United States. The standard period during which you can travel abroad is limited to one year. However, this period varies greatly depending on whether or not you are a naturalized citizen.
On the other hand, whether you can enter another country without a visa depends on your nationality and the visa policy between your country and the destination country.
For example, if you are visiting a Schengen country in Europe, whether you need to apply for a Schengen visa in the U.S. depends on your nationality.
Is Health Insurance for Green Card Holders Mandatory?
No, health insurance coverage is not mandatory for citizens or immigrants. However, due to the high cost of medical care in the U.S., it is highly recommended that you have some type of insurance. A visit to the doctor alone can cost hundreds of dollars, and a night in the hospital can cost thousands of dollars.
What Are the Differences Between Green Card and a US Visa?
The difference between a green card and a visa is that a green card is an authorization to live permanently in the United States, while a visa is temporary.
It can be said that there are more differences between a visa and a green card than there are similarities. As mentioned earlier, an immigrant visa leads to a green card, and a green card leads to U.S. citizenship, which is the highest status an alien can obtain in the United States.
However, a green card can also be obtained in other ways. Here are some of the differences between the two.
A green card is issued as a green plastic identification card with a photo, whereas a visa is issued as a stamp or sticker that is placed in your passport.
A green card is permanent and does not expire, but must be renewed every 10 years. Visas, on the other hand, are temporary and can be renewed for a specified period of time.
Green card holders are allowed to work. On the other hand, visa holders cannot work unless they have a specific type of visa.
Living in the US
Green card holders should be careful not to use this document as a multiple entry visa, as staying outside the U.S. for an extended period of time or using the U.S. as a second home can result in revocation of status.
Visa holders, on the other hand, may enter the country only once or as many times as they wish, depending on the visa.
Similarities Between a Green Card and a Visa
To understand the differences between the two, it’s best to first know the similarities, but there aren’t many of those.
- First, both visas and green cards are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Second, both visas and green cards are issued to foreign nationals.
- Green card holders and most visa holders (except those entering the U.S. for tourism, medical care, education, etc.) can work in the U.S..
- If they are found to have committed a crime, the green card or visa is revoked and the alien is deported.
- In addition, these foreigners do not have the right to vote.