To be able to live in the United States of America, like every other country, you need a residence permit. A permanent residence permit in the USA grants you living rights and access to resources in the country. You can have either a temporary or a permanent residence permit, depending on your application. A temporary residence permit gives you access for a definite time. For a permanent residence permit in the USA, the name explains itself.
A lot of people tend to get it mixed up by applying for a work permit which is temporary when what they need is a permanent residence permit. This article will provide information on how to successfully apply for a permanent residence permit in the US. In applying for USA permanent residence, you will first need to process a green card. The United States of America is very keen on issuing green cards but applicants must be eligible in different categories.
US Green Card
To make an application for USA permanent residence permit means that you need a US green card. The US green card is to be used for 10 years, after which you will have to renew. The first question to always ask in processing travel and residence permits is your eligibility. So, who can be a USA permanent resident? There are different categories to apply under with different eligibility requirements. Not only can you apply, but you can also have a visa that covers your family and spouse, like in Canada.
US green card has categories for family and applicants migrating for employment. Also, if you are or have been a victim of abuse, there is a category for you; and the same with refugees or Asylee status. There is also a US green card issued for special immigrants, another through the registry, and another for human trafficking and crime victims.
US Green Card Eligibility Categories
US Green card family category
You are eligible to apply for a green card in this category if you are a nuclear family member of a US citizen or relative of a lawful permanent resident permit holder who is under the category of family-based preference. You are a nuclear family member if you are the spouse of a US citizen.
Also, under 21 children can apply if their parents are US citizens. The same goes for parents whose children from ages 21 and below are US citizens. As a fiancée whose fiancé is a US citizen or vice versa, you are eligible to apply through the family category. The family category for US green cards also covers abused children and parents of US citizens. A widow or widower who was married to a US citizen at the time of his or her death is eligible to apply under this category too.
Victims of Abuse category
If you have been put in any of these unfortunate situations by a US citizen, you can apply under this category for a green card. There is the Cuban Adjustment Act and the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) for different purposes. Victims abused by a Cuban native or people who got their permanent residence permit via the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act are catered to in this category too.
US green card for victims of abuse caters to people who have been abused by US citizens or lawful US permanent residents. Abused spouses, children below the age of 21, and parents can apply for a US green card in this category. An abused or abandoned child also, who has a US special immigrant juvenile can apply for a green card in this category.
US green card employment category
To be eligible to apply in this category, you must either be a first, second, or third-place immigrant worker. This means that you are skilled in science, art, business, education, etc. it also covers people whose professions require them to have done courses and degrees in the US. Unskilled workers who may not be certified but with less than 2 years of training or experience, and can take on unskilled labor.
Applicants in medical and clinical professions can apply in this category too. This is basically for physicians who are interested in full-time practice in underserved units. You can guess that this category is also open to applicants who have been investors in the US economy or are willing to invest in areas of employment.
Refugee or Asylee
You are eligible to apply for a US green card if you have a refugee or Asylee status. This implies that for at least one year, you have been granted refugee or asylee status by the US government.
US green card as a special immigrant
US special immigrants are those who need the protection of Special Immigrant Juvenile. Also, religious workers who need to work for religious organizations in the US can apply for a US green card as a special immigrant. Those who are immigrating to the US to work for the US government media team or have previously been a worker/translator for Afghanistan and Iraq in the US.
However, in as much as green cards are generously given out to cater to every kind of applicant, whether skilled, unskilled, abused, refugee, married, etc., the US government is also particular about the value successful immigrants can add to the United States. This explains why being an abused victim, a refugee or a healthy person alone will not grant you US green card. You must also meet up other eligibility requirements.
US Green Card Eligibility Requirements
There are general requirements for every applicant but peculiarities based on the category applicants were eligible to apply under.
- Birth certificate
- Police certificate
- Medical certificate
- Proof of funds
- Under the family category, you will additionally provide proof of support/family sponsorship
- Your application is under the family category but as a spouse to a US citizen specifically, you will provide your marriage certificate also
- Applicants under the employment category will provide proof of employment, etc.
Applying for US Green Card
It is very important to note at this point that a green card as it is called in the US refers to your permanent residence permit. So, the guidelines below are useful for applications for PR.
In applying for a green card, you will have someone file an immigrant petition. Although you can fill out a petition form by yourself in some cases, that is not always the case. The petition is also called “sponsoring or petitioning for you”. Once your petition is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can then file a green card or visa application under a chosen category.
While the green card application is done with the USCIS, your visa application is filed with the US Department of State. The next step after both filings have been done is to carry out a biometric where your fingerprint, a photo of you, and your signature will be taken. You will also be scheduled for an interview after which you will wait for a mail from USCIS. The mail will provide information on whether your application for a visa or green card has been successful.
How to Apply for Permanent Residence Visa in the USA
Your visa is a travel document that grants you access to the US. How to apply for a permanent resident visa in the USA is not such a hard nut to crack. You should know by now that if you are a student, or hoping to travel for your internship, you will not be applying for a permanent resident permit but a temporary visa for that purpose.
To get a permanent residence status in the US
To get your permanent residence status after filing your form, you will have to pay a filing fee and biometric fee too. The fees vary based on the category that you applied under. Applicants that are below the age of 14 and are filing with at least a parent have to pay $750 in total, $700 as the form fee, and $50 as their biometric fee. Applicants that are under 14 also but this time, not filing with at least a parent pay $1,140 as a total fee.
For applicants above 14 years of age and below 78, their form fee is $1,140 and $85 for biometrics. Also, applicants that are 79 years and above pay just $1,140 as a form fee without any payment for biometrics. Applicants with refugee and asylee status do not pay any fee while filing their forms. This also includes victims of abuse.
Processing the US permanent residence card can take some time. According to USCIS, it takes between 6 to about 33 months to process a green card. However, the time that your visa will take to be processed solely depends on the kind of visa you are applying for. Applying for a visitor visa or temporary work visa takes a shorter time to be processed. While temporary visas can take a few months to be processed, getting a green card will take months, running into a year, in some cases.
Applicants can be denied US permanent residence if they do not meet the eligibility requirements or the certificates presented are not satisfactory enough. For example, if a police certificate shows the applicant has a past criminal record, such an application can be denied US permanent residence because he poses a security threat to the US.
Applicants that have no proof of funds or job offer letter at the time of applying will become solely dependent on the US government and can be denied the status of permanent residence USA. This applies to applicants who are suffering medical ailments as the certificate will show, that they can be denied permanent residence USA.
In filing the form for US green card, you are less at risk of making errors and being denied the US green card if you utilize the leverage you have to contact an immigration officer for guidance through the process. Visit our page for help planning your immigration.