New York Green Card Guide
The New York green card guide was created by Empire Immigration Law, PLLC to help answer common questions you may have about the immigration process. Call our lawyers for a consultation.
If you are looking for help getting your green card or permanent residency card, our Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer can help you. You deserve to have someone who cares about you working to help you during this transformative and exciting time. You probably have so many questions, and we can answer those for you during our first consultation. Call today to get started.
What is a Green Card?
If you want to be able to live or work in the United States permanently and legally, then a green card might be the right option for you. For those who would like to eventually go through the process of naturalization to become a citizen of the United States, having a green card is often a steppingstone. It’s an important step for you to go through in this process. Whether you are trying to get a green card for yourself or you would like to sponsor a family member, it’s important to have the right lawyer with you. Our Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer is here to help you through your immigration matters including the green card application process. Call us right away to get started.
Two Ways to Get Permanent Residency:
If you are looking to get permanent residency, which goes hand-in-hand with getting a green card, there are two ways to do it: you could have an adjustment of status or go through the consular process.
When you are trying to get permanent residency, you might be able to qualify for a green card interview in the United States as an immigrant. This is an option for those who want to change their status from an immigrant to a legal resident.
In order to be able to have an adjustment of status, you have to be in the United States and have been here legally. The interviews for adjustment of status happen at your local United States citizen and immigration services office.
It’s important to check with a Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer first to see which embassy offices are open if you would like to go through the consular process, as the rules for those interviews are prone to change.
Some immigrants who are not yet in the United States will go through the interview process in their home country, which is what consular processing is. It gets its name because you have to go through your consulate or the U.S. Embassy in your own country in order to apply for permanent residency in the United States. If you are currently living outside of the United States, then this is the only way for you to be able to immigrate into the country. If, however, you live in the United States but don’t qualify for an adjustment of status, you might be able to go through the consular processing.
Are you Eligible for a Green Card?
Whether or not you are eligible for a green card is dependent on your family relationships or your immigration status, as well as your immigration history. There are many different ways in which you can apply for your green card, which include reasons such as family, work, special matters, asylum or refugee status, or being a victim of abuse or human trafficking.
Being a Sponsor for a Family Member
If you are here looking for information about how you can sponsor a family member as a U.S. citizen, our Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer can help you. You would be able to sponsor a spouse, parent, or child who would be considered your immediate relatives. They have to have entered this country legally, regardless of whether or not they have overstayed their visa. You would immediately apply for an adjustment of status here and because, as immediate family, you would not be put on a wait list. If you are in the country, this can happen in well under six months.
If you are looking to sponsor your child who is over the age of 21 or your sibling and you are a U.S. citizen, unfortunately there will be a wait list for your family member because these types of petitions are limited every year. If this person you would like to sponsor is already inside of the United States, they have to have come here legally and have an immigrant status in order to be eligible for you to sponsor them.
Our Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer can look to see if there are exceptions for you. Anyone who filed a petition with the USCIS or Department of Labor before April 30, 2001, might be eligible for an exception. Get in touch right away to find out whether or not the person you would like to sponsor qualifies to adjust their status and obtain permanent residency here. If this is an immediate relative and they are not in the United States illegally and they have not filed an application before the previously mentioned date, there is something called a provisional waiver that we might be able to help you with. Call to learn more.
Having Conditional Residency
A conditional residence might be necessary for you if you are in a marriage and have a marriage-based green card but are heading toward divorce and are worried. Please understand that, if the marriage is under two years, then you have to file to remove the condition within 90 days of this card being expired. Keep all of your documentation related to your marriage so you can prove at any time to immigration services that this is a legitimate marriage. If you are worried because this marriage is heading toward divorce, please call us right away.
Avoid Losing Your Status
You need to protect your status dearly. Be sure that you do not violate either the criminal or the immigration laws when you are in the United States. Your residency can be swiftly taken away from you if you do that. If you have any questions about this or concerns you’d like to discuss, our Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer is more than happy to talk to you.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer
You might be wondering: Why is it beneficial for me to have a lawyer? For example, let’s say that you are a specialized employee and someone is really trying to get you to work for them. You might be able to qualify for several different types of visas and possibly different types of green cards, and it might be a challenge for you to know what the right decision is to make. Our Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer can help you understand what is going to suit your needs best.
Also, let’s say that you just got engaged to a U.S. citizen and you plan to live with them in the States. You might not know what the right move to make is. If you get married before you move to the United States, you have an immediate right to a green card as opposed to going through the process of a fiancée visa, which allows you to come to the country and get married at a later date rather than going through the green card process through an adjustment of status. We can help you pick the best option for you that is faster and less expensive.
Fastest Green Card Option
One of the fastest ways to get permanent residency in the United States is something called an EB-1 green card. This is considered an employment-based green card and it is first preference. Every year 140,000 applicants get their green card through this process for employee-based reasons.
Whether you need to come to the United States for work or for family reasons, let us help you figure out your best move. EB-1 might be right for you if you can fall under the category of priority workers. Let us help you understand this process better during a first consultation.
Frequently Asked Green Card Questions
Can I Include My Spouse and Children in a Green Card Application?
A few days ago, we had a client in the office who had questions. Somebody else is applying for a green card for him, so he is the beneficiary of a green card application. He asked, “Is it possible to include my wife and my kids in this green card application?” We told him, yes, it is possible. You can include your wife and kids; however, there is an exception.
If your kids are over the age of 21 or if they are married, you cannot include them in your green card application. There are, however, other pathways to lawful permanent residence for your children who are over the age of 21 or who are married.
If you have any questions about the green card application process, give us a call.
Can I Lose My Green Card Conditions Based on Divorce?
We received a phone call the other day from a potential client who is a conditional resident and in the process of getting a divorce. Her question was, “Can I lose my green card if I get a divorce?” Generally, when somebody gets their green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, they receive what is called a conditional green card. This conditional green card is good for two years, and at the end of the two years the conditional resident has to file what’s called the I-751 petition to remove conditions on residence. They must file this within 90 days before the expiration of their green card.
The purpose of this application, this petition, is to prove that they were in a good-faith marriage, a bona fide marriage, and not a sham marriage entered into for the purpose of only getting a green card and nothing else. For that reason, the United States government requires conditional residents to file this application to prove that they were in a good-faith marriage. If you are going through the process of a divorce, however, this is not the end of the story; you will not automatically be denied. It will make the matter a little more difficult, but there are ways to get through it.
You do have to prove that it was a good-faith marriage. We do this on a regular basis. Give us a call if you have any questions about the green card application process or any other immigration matters.
Can I Stay More Than Six Months Outside the United States with a Green Card?
One question that comes up a lot is whether or not permanent residents can spend more than six months outside of the United States. Our answer to that question is it’s possible, but it’s not recommended. Here’s why.
Once you come back to the United States, it’s possible that the government officers at the border can take the position that you have abandoned your permanent resident status. This means they believe that you no longer wish to be a permanent resident. At this point, you have two choices; you can either give up your permanent resident status, or you can choose to challenge this in immigration court. In immigration court, these are deportation proceedings, so, if you lose, you will be deported. In immigration court, during these proceedings, what happens is you ask the judge not to terminate your permanent resident status. There is another way to prevent this from happening, and this is by getting a re-entry permit before you leave.
If you have any questions about permanent resident status, green card applications, or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
Can I Work in the U.S. While Waiting for My Green Card?
We were speaking the other day with a potential client who is ready to start the green card application process. One of her questions was whether or not she’s able to work in the United States legally while waiting for her green card. The answer is yes. You are able to work in the United States while waiting for your green card; however, you need your work permit first.
One of the advantages of working with us is that we include the work authorization application when taking care of the entire green card application package. This is included at no additional cost; you don’t have to pay an additional government filing fee. We don’t charge anything more. We include this standard in all of our green card application packages.
If you have any questions about the green card application process, work permits, or any other immigration matters, please give us a call. We would love to talk with you.
Do I Automatically Get a Green Card When I Marry a U.S. Citizen?
The other day we received a phone call from a person who recently married a U.S. citizen. What they asked was, “Do I automatically get a green card if I marry a U.S. citizen?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, no, you do not automatically get a green card if you marry a U.S. citizen. You still have to prove that you are eligible for a green card. This means that you have to prove you lawfully entered the United States and that your marriage is a real marriage and not a sham marriage entered into only for the purpose of getting a green card. Also, if there are any other criminal or immigration violations in your past, this could prevent you from getting your green card even though you’re married to a U.S. citizen.
If you have any questions at all about getting a green card or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
How Do I Apply for a Green Card for My Foreign National Spouse?
How do you get a green card for a foreign national spouse? The answer is, it depends. There are two different processes. It depends on where your spouse is currently located.
If your spouse lives outside the country, outside of the United States, what you do is you file the original paperwork with USCIS. Once this is approved, it then goes over the National Visa Center where you apply for the immigrant visa, upload additional documents, and send everything over to the National Visa Center. Once everything is in order, the National Visa Center will then forward everything over to the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate in your spouse’s home country. If all goes well, your spouse will enter the United States. When they make that entry, they will enter as a lawful permanent resident and will receive their green card in the mail several weeks later.
If your spouse is located in the United States, the process is different. Everything is done directly with USCIS. What you do in that case is file all of the original paperwork directly with USCIS, make sure everything is done accurately and you include all of the documents. Then what would happen next is USCIS would then schedule an interview with an immigration officer. If all goes well, the immigration officer will approve the application and you will receive the green card in the mail several weeks later.
If you have any questions about the green card application process or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
How Long After I Receive My Green Card Can I Naturalize?
We represent a lot of permanent residents. Once they get their green cards, almost all of them have the very same question: “How long after I get my green card can I apply for naturalization?” The answer really depends on how you obtained your green card. How did you get your green card?
For people who married U.S. citizens, they can apply for naturalization after three years. For all others, they must be permanent residents for a minimum of five years. Of course there are other requirements to be eligible for naturalization, and we would love to talk to you about them. Give us a call if you have any questions about naturalization or any other immigration matters. Thank you.
How Long Do You Have to Wait for a Green Card?
We receive a lot of phone calls from potential clients who are ready to start the green card application process. One of the questions that always comes up is, “How long does it take for me to get my green card?” On average, it takes between one and two years to get your green card. There are a lot of factors that can affect the amount of time that it would take to get your green card.
For example, if you’re in a busier jurisdiction, it may take a little longer to get your interview. Also, if there’s any missing information in your application or any missing documents, this will also cause significant delays in your application processing.
If you have any questions about the green card application process, give us a call. We would love to speak with you.
What is Conditional Permanent Residence?
Recently, we received a phone call from a green card applicant who had questions about what happens if and when her green card application is approved. What we explained to her is that she would receive conditional permanent residence or conditional residence. Naturally her question was, “What is conditional permanent residence?”
Conditional permanent residence, or conditional residence, is a temporary status that is granted to people who are able to get their green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or to a lawful, permanent resident. The reason why they are granted only temporary status is because the government wants to avoid sham marriages. Sham marriages are marriages that are entered into only for the purpose of getting a green card and nothing else. To get rid of this conditional residence or to remove these conditions on residents, what you must do is file the I-751 and prove that you were in a bona fide marriage, a good-faith marriage, and not one of these sham marriages.
If you have any questions about conditional residence or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
What is the Difference Between a Green Card and Naturalization?
A question that comes up a lot is what is the difference between a green card and naturalization? Naturalization is the process whereby somebody becomes a U.S. citizen.
There is a big difference between being a naturalized U.S. citizen and a lawful permanent resident or a green card holder. For example, naturalized U.S. citizens are U.S. citizens for life, in most cases. It is extremely rare that citizenship can be taken away from you. Also, citizenship can be passed onto your children, in most cases. For permanent residents, permanent residency can be taken away if there are any immigration violations or any criminal violations. Also, if you spend a lot of time outside the United States, it is possible for the government to take the position that you’ve abandoned your permanent residence. If you’re a naturalized U.S. citizen, you don’t have to worry about abandoning your citizenship for spending too much time outside of the United States.
If you have any questions about naturalization or green cards, please give us a call.
What is the Green Card Lottery Process?
We received a phone call from a potential client who was already here in the United States and looking for ways to remain here in the United States. One of the questions he had was, “What is the green card lottery process?”
The green card lottery process, first of all, is an extremely limited way to come to the United States. This is only available to people from countries with low immigration rates into the United States. This is available to people who have a minimum of a high school education or have two years of experience in certain professions. Also, you need to know that if you have certain criminal or immigration violations, this may not be available to you.
If you have any questions about the green card lottery process or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
What Should I Do if My Green Card is About to Expire?
We represent a lot of permanent residents and they often ask, “What happens if my green card is about to expire?” The answer to this question really depends. It depends on if you’re a conditional resident or if you’re a lawful permanent resident. The reason why is because there’s a different process for each.
Conditional residents’ green cards are only good for two years. They have to file a form called I-751— the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This is a little more complicated process. For lawful permanent residents, the ones that have the ten-year green card status, they must file the I-90— the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. The process is a little easier for lawful permanent residents that are applying for their ten-year green card.
If you have any questions about replacing your green card, the green card application process, or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
Why Would a Green Card Application Be Denied?
We received a phone call the other day from a potential client, and they were worried about whether or not they would be approved for their green card. The question that came up was, “Why would my green card application be denied?” What we explained to them was, generally, it is your responsibility as the applicant for a green card to prove that you are eligible. In most cases, the reason USCIS would deny a green card application is because the person who applied has failed to prove that they are eligible to receive the green card.
There is no right to get your green card. You’re not entitled to get your green card. You have to prove that you are eligible. The best way to prove that you are eligible is to work with an experienced immigration attorney. If you have any questions about your green card application or any other immigration matters, please give us a call. We’d love to talk with you.
Contact Our Buffalo, NY, Green Card Lawyer for Help
If you need to know more about obtaining a green card or have questions about other immigration matters, please get in contact with our office right away. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Buffalo, NY, green card lawyer for help today.