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When you hope to live permanently in the United States and perhaps become a citizen, you need to first get Lawful Permanent Resident status—in other words, you need a green card. Securing a green card can be a complicated and tedious process. You will need to submit many documents, and long delays are common.
A Groveland green card lawyer could assist you every step of the way. With extensive experience helping families put down permanent roots in the U.S., one of our immigration attorneys could help you anticipate any obstacles and navigate around them.
Having a green card authorizes you to live in the country permanently and pursue legal employment. Once you have a green card, you may bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21 to the United States. A green card entitles you to travel internationally and return to the United States without having to get a visa to enter.
Once you have had your green card for five years—three years if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen—you can apply for U.S. citizenship. Being a citizen means you can vote, hold elected office, and cannot be deported. Once you are a citizen, you can sponsor your parents, siblings, married children, and children over 21 to immigrate to the U.S.
Having a green card has significant benefits, but the government is careful about issuing them. The application process requires submitting extensive documents, getting a medical examination, and having an interview. The process could take several years to complete, but a Groveland attorney could guide you from application to finally receiving your green card.
The first step in getting a green card is applying for an immigrant visa, with your sponsor filing a petition on your behalf. In most cases, you must wait for the sponsor’s petition to be approved, and a visa must be available in your selected category before you file your green card application. However, if your sponsor is a U.S. citizen and you are their spouse, parent, or unmarried child under 21, you can file your application concurrently with the petition.
If you are not the spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen, you must know your priority date to check the availability of a visa. Your priority date is the date your sponsor filed the petition. If your employer requires a Labor Certification, the date the Department of Labor accepted the application for processing is your priority date. Only a limited number of visas in each category are issued every year, but a Groveland attorney could help you select the category that gives you the best chance of working toward obtaining your green card.
A green card does not guarantee you can remain in the U.S. indefinitely. Your green card comes with responsibilities, and the government can revoke your green card if you violate U.S. laws.
USCIS assumes that green card holders plan to stay in the U.S. indefinitely. Extended stays abroad without returning to the U.S. could trigger a Customs and Border Control agent to question whether you have abandoned your home in the U.S. Obtaining a re-entry permit before leaving the country for an extended stay abroad could prevent this outcome. A Groveland Green Card attorney could explain whether seeking a re-entry permit is advisable in your circumstances.
Criminal convictions could also lead to the government revoking a green card. The government might revoke a green card if the holder is convicted of a drug offense, violent crime, domestic violence, theft, fraud, driving while intoxicated, or other crimes of moral turpitude. If you have several convictions or a conviction for certain serious crimes, you may be deportable. Seek counsel from a legal professional about the immigration implications of a criminal conviction.
Getting a green card is a long process. For people who hope to establish roots in the United States, this process is worth it.
A Groveland Green Card lawyer could help with any aspect of applying for or maintaining your green card. Reach out today to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.