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Articles Tagged with Green Card

Path to Permanent Residence in Nashville, TNThe United States immigration system contains millions of pending applications at any given time. Although many immigrants throughout the United States ultimately submit their applications to obtain lawful permanent residence (i.e., a “Green Card”) or other immigration benefits to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), the Immigration Courts located in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (an office within the U.S. Department of Justice) present a very different, surprising, and far riskier path to lawful permanent residence: removal proceedings.

Without a doubt, being placed in removal proceedings and facing deportation from the United States is probably one of the greatest fears of any immigrant in the United States. If the Government succeeds in its case against an immigrant in removal proceedings, the Immigration Court will order the immigrant removed from the United States and, with only few exceptions, the immigrant will be transported back to their native country. Immigrants placed in removal proceedings because of criminal charges brought against them in the United States may even be placed in federal custody and detained for the duration of their removal proceedings, rendering it difficult or impossible for them to re-connect with their loved ones while their removal proceedings are ongoing, and their ability to secure legal counsel and obtain the necessary evidence to support their defense may be substantially impaired. Indeed, for nearly all immigrants currently residing in the United States – lawfully or otherwise – the possibility of being placed in removal proceedings is a scenario that cannot be described as anything other than truly horrifying and disastrous, as their removal from the United States will mean separation from their families, an end to the life they have built for themselves over a period of months or years, and a return to dangerous or unhealthy living conditions in the country they hoped to flee, leave behind forever, or never return to.

As difficult as the removal process is for countless immigrants, the current legal landscape does provide a little-known silver lining to the removal process: certain immigrants can acquire lawful permanent residence status and a Green Card by obtaining a form of relief known as cancellation of removal in a removal proceeding. Indeed, in certain circumstances, not only can immigrants prevail in their removal proceeding and avoid deportation from the United States – they can actually obtain a Green Card at the conclusion of the proceeding and be admitted to stay in the United States permanently when there would have otherwise been no other avenue available to obtain a Green Card.

Path to Permanent Residence in Nashville, TNThroughout America, one of the greatest struggles facing millions of immigrants is that of obtaining lawful permanent residence or – as it is commonly called – a “Green Card.” There are dozens of possible paths to obtaining a Green Card. Even many undocumented immigrants have a pathway to legal permanent residence available to them. Part 2 of this series focuses on family-based immigration and some of the ways immigrants can seek a Green Card through family relationships they have with relatives who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. If you missed Part 1 of this series (an overview to obtaining a Green Card), you can find it here.

Currently, family-based immigration results in greater numbers of admissions than the other categories of immigrants. As specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act, eligibility for family-sponsored immigration is determined by an immigrant’s familial relationships to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1151, 1153. If an immigrant can be categorized as an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen, he or she may be exempt from the waiting times that apply to other categories in family-based immigration. However, immigrants seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status through their marriage to a U.S. citizen may also be subject to heightened scrutiny and evidentiary requirements. Determining your eligibility for a family-based immigration category, as well as which category is best for you, is a complex process that should not be attempted without the assistance of an immigration attorney.

Generally, the process of obtaining a Green Card in family-based immigration starts with the filing of a visa petition by the immigrant’s relative in the U.S. Visa petitions are generally filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Generally, a USCIS Officer will be responsible for adjudicating the visa petition. Approving a family-based visa petition can be discretionary for a USCIS Officer. Therefore, it is crucial to complete the visa petition in the legally correct manner and with sufficient supporting evidence to prove the bona fide nature of the family relationship. To gather the necessary evidence and complete the visa petition properly, it is important to secure the legal counsel of an immigration lawyer before submitting a visa petition to USCIS or any other government agency.

Path to Permanent ResidenceThe “Green Card” – to some, it is a symbol of hope, accomplishment, and security for a new life in America. To others, it symbolizes peace of mind, enduring stability with loved ones, and extinguishing the fear of deportation. Regardless of background or viewpoint, obtaining a Green Card means successfully completing the path to legal permanent residence. While millions of immigrants throughout the United States want a Green Card, relatively few of those immigrants ultimately succeed in acquiring one. For a variety of reasons, many immigrants find obtaining a Green Card challenging and difficult. This series of posts – while far from comprehensive or a substitute for legal counsel – discusses some of the ways immigrants in the United States can obtain status as a lawful permanent resident.

In the legal sense, acquiring lawful permanent resident status is the same thing as obtaining a Green Card. Upon receiving lawful permanent resident status, the immigrant is given an identification card. Over time, people began referring to these identification cards as “Green Cards” due to the green backdrop on the cards. Thus, while many people consider the Green Card to be the key to legal status, the card itself is really nothing more than a piece of plastic – the true prize is obtaining the status of lawful permanent resident.

But how can you get status as a lawful permanent resident? It depends. Every case is different, and there are dozens of possibilities. The current immigration system utilizes four (4) main categories of immigrants: (1) family-sponsored immigrants; (2) employment-based immigrants; (3) diversity immigrants; and (4) humanitarian immigrants. Within each category there can be several additional sub-categories, all with differing eligibility requirements. In addition, many of those categories have numerical limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year, resulting in various wait times. Therefore, it is not uncommon for many immigrants to be eligible to apply for legal permanent residence but have a waiting period before they can actually complete the process and obtain their Green Card. Even outside of these four (4) main categories, there are several other possible paths to receiving lawful permanent resident status. Indeed, even immigrants currently in removal proceedings and facing deportation may be able to obtain a Green Card and adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

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