California has more than three million legal permanent residents – the fourth largest population of any state. These individuals are also known as green card holders. Those who possess a green card are legally permitted to live and work in the United States. Here are the answers to common questions about obtaining a green card.
How Can You Get A Green Card?
There are two main ways that people can obtain a green card in California. The first is through employment sponsorship and the second is through family sponsorship. It’s also important to note that those with legal permanent residency may be legally able to naturalize as U.S. citizens.
When you a company wishes to hire a foreigner, it can sponsor them to come to the U.S. on a greed card. There are four different types of work sponsorships:
- By job offer: For most green cards, the U.S. employer must obtain a labor certification and file a Form I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker and gain approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- By self-petition: Sometimes foreigners may apply on their own behalf to work in the U.S. on a green card.
- By investment: Individuals from other countries who wish to invest in an enterprise in the U.S. that creates jobs, may be able to get a green card through an EB-5 visa.
- Through special category jobs: Those from other countries who have “specialized” jobs (e.g. broadcasters and religious workers) may be able to obtain a green card through an EB-4 visa.
Another method of obtaining a green card is through family sponsorship. In other words, a U.S. citizen or green card holder may be able to sponsor a family member from a foreign country to come to the U.S. on a green card. There are three types of family sponsorships:
- U.S. citizen immediate relative: Immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children under 21, and/or parents of the petitioning U.S. citizen.
- U.S. citizen family member in a preference category: This type of family sponsorship includes siblings, unmarried children over 21, and/or married children. The age of the petitioning U.S. citizen does not matter.
- Green card-holder immediate relative: This type of family sponsorship includes spouses and/or unmarried children under 21 of the petitioning legal permanent resident.
Other common ways in which someone can obtain legal permanent resident status include:
- Refugee status
- Diversity lottery
- Violence Against Women Act
What is the Green Card Application Process in CA?
The green card application process usually involves the following steps:
- The foreigner obtains an immigrant visa;
- He or she applies for a green card by using the I-485 Form
- The next part of the process depends on where the applicant is located; and
- If the applicant is oversees this is called “consular processing, which moves a little quicker (up to six months)
- If the applicant is already on U.S. soil, it is called “adjustment of status,” which can take a year or longer
- Often the applicant will need to provide finger prints and be interviewed.
How Long is a Green Card Good For?
While different cases vary, green cards must generally be renewed after a period of ten years, though many holders are able to naturalize to U.S. citizenship prior to the end of a decade. Before they gain U.S. citizenship, green card holders may still be deported if they are found to have committed certain crimes:
- Drug crimes
- Gun crimes
- Domestic battery crimes
- Crimes of moral turpitude
Foreigners may not be able to obtain a green card in the first place if they have already been convicted of one of the above types of crimes. This remains true even if their criminal record has been expunged.
The Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman Helps Those in California Who Wish to Obtain a Green Card or Naturalize to U.S. Citizenship
If you or a loved one is looking to obtain a green card or naturalize to U.S. citizenship it can be complicated and intimidating to handle on your own. Sometimes you only get one real opportunity to obtain legal permanent residence in the U.S. That’s why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced San Bernardino and Riverside immigration attorney who understands the immigration process and can help to walk you through it.
At the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman, our San Bernardino and Riverside immigration attorneys will work to help you through various immigration processes. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!