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Currently, individuals from China mainland , India, Mexico and the Philippines are subject to per-country quotas in most of the categories, and the waiting time may take longer additional 520 years. The quotas include not only the principal applicants but also their nuclear family members.

Form I The whole process may take several years, depending on the type of immigrant category and the country of chargeability. An immigrant usually has to go through a three-step process to get permanent residency: If a sibling is applying, she or he must have the same parents as the applicant. A visa number might not be immediately available even if the USCIS approves the petition, because the number of immigrant visa numbers is limited every year by quotas set in the Immigration and Nationality Act INA.

There are also certain additional limitations by country of chargeability. Thus, most immigrants will be placed on lengthy waiting lists. Those immigrants who are immediate relatives of a U. Immigrant visa adjudication in the third step, when an immigrant visa number becomes available, the applicant must either apply with USCIS to adjust their current status to permanent resident status or apply with the DOS for an immigrant visa at the nearest U.

Except for immediate relatives of U. For immediate relatives and other relative categories whose visa numbers are current, adjustment of status can be filed for at the same time with the petition step 1 above. It still requires the immigrant visa petition to be first completed and approved. The applicant may make an appointment at the U.

If the case is approved, an immigrant visa is issued by the U. The visa entitles the holder to travel to the United States as an immigrant. An applicant alien in the United States can obtain two permits while the case is pending after a certain stage is passed in green card processing filing of I The first is a temporary work permit known as the Employment Authorization Document EAD , which allows the alien to take employment in the United States.

The second is a temporary travel document, advance parole , which allows the alien to re-enter the United States. Both permits confer benefits that are independent of any existing status granted to the alien. For example, the alien might already have permission to work in the United States under an H-1B visa. Application process for family-sponsored visa for both parents and for children[ edit ] U. Spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21; Parents once the U.

However, all other family-based categories have significant backlogs, even with a U. Regardless of whether the family member being sponsored is located in the United States and therefore likely to be applying for adjustment of status or outside the United States in which case the immigrant visa is the likely option , the process begins with the filing of an I Petition for Alien Relative. The form and instructions can be found on the U. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Additional documents, such as police certificates, may be required depending on whether immigrant visa consular processing or adjustment of status is being utilized.

In the case of consular processing outside the United States one should ensure one is up-to-date with the particular practices of the relevant US embassy or consulate. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Learn how and when to remove this template message Green-card holders married to non-U. The foreign spouse of a green-card holder must wait for approval of an "immigrant visa" from the State Department before entering the United States.

Due to numerical limitation on the number of these visas, the wait time for approval may be months or years. In the interim, the spouse cannot be legally present in the United States, unless he or she secures a visa by some other means. Green-card holders may opt to wait to become U. However, many green-card holders can choose to apply for the spouse or children and update their application after becoming a U.

The issue of U. A mechanism to unite families of green-card holders was created by the LIFE Act by the introduction of a " V visa ", signed into law by President Clinton. The law expired on December 31, , and V visas are no longer available. From time to time, bills are introduced in Congress to reinstate V visas, but so far none have been successful.

Improving the application process in obtaining a green card[ edit ] The most common challenges that USCIS faces in providing services in the green card process are: USCIS tries to shorten the time qualified applicants wait to receive permanent residence. Challenges with processing time of application[ edit ] Under the current system, immediate family members spouse, child, and dependent mother and father , have priority status for green cards and generally wait 6 months to a year to have their green card application approved.

For non-immediate family members, the process may take up to 10 years. To address the issue of slow processing times, USCIS has made a policy allowing applicants to submit the I and I forms at the same time. This has reduced the processing time. Another delay in the process comes when applications have mistakes. In these cases papers are sent back to the applicant, further delaying the process.

Currently the largest issue creating long wait times is not processing time, but rather immigrant visa quotas set by Congress. Immigrants need visas to get off of these waiting lists, and Congress would need to change immigration law in order to accommodate them with legal status. The number of green cards that can be granted to family-based applicants depends on what preference category they fall under.

An unlimited number of immediate relatives can receive green cards because there is no quota for that category. Family members who fall under the other various preference categories have fixed quotas, however the number of visas issued from each category may vary because unused visas from one category may rollover into another category. Application process for employment-based visa[ edit ] Many immigrants opt for this route, which typically requires an employer to "sponsor" i.

The three-step process outlined above is described here in more detail for employment-based immigration applications. Immigrant petition the first step includes the pre-requisite labor certification upon which the actual petition will reside.

Labor certification the employer must legally prove that it has a need to hire an alien for a specific position and that there is no minimally qualified U. Some of the requirements to prove this situation include: This is currently done through an electronic system known as PERM.

The labor certification is valid for 6 months from the time it is approved. There are several EB employment-based immigrant categories i. Many of the applications are processed under the EB3 category. Many of the EB categories allow expedited processing of this stage, known as "premium processing".

Currently this step centers around the priority date concept. A "current" designation indicates that visa numbers are available to all applicants in the corresponding immigrant category. Petitions with priority dates earlier than the cutoff date are expected to have visas available, therefore those applicants are eligible for final adjudication.

When the NVC determines that a visa number could be available for a particular immigrant petition, a visa is tentatively allocated to the applicant. The NVC will send a letter stating that the applicant may be eligible for adjustment of status, and requiring the applicant to choose either to adjust status with the USCIS directly, or apply at the U. This waiting process determines when the applicant can expect the immigration case to be adjudicated.

Due to quotas imposed on EB visa categories, there are more approved immigrant petitions than visas available under INA. High demand for visas has created a backlog of approved but unadjudicated cases. Since there is no quota carry-over to the next fiscal year, for several years visa quotas have not been fully used, thus adding to the visa backlog.

When the NVC determines that an immigrant visa is available, the case can be adjudicated. If the alien is already in the USA, that alien has a choice to finalize the green card process via adjustment of status in the USA, or via consular processing abroad. Prior to filing the form I Adjustment of Status it is required that the applicant have a medical examination performed by a USCIS-approved civil surgeon. The examination includes a blood test and specific immunizations, unless the applicant provides proof that the required immunizations were already done elsewhere.

The civil surgeon hands the applicant a sealed envelope containing a completed form I, which must be included unopened with the I application. Adjustment of status AOS after the alien has a labor certification and has been provisionally allocated a visa number, the final step is to change his or her status to permanent residency. Consular processing this is an alternative to AOS, but still requires the immigrant visa petition to be completed. In the past pre , this process was somewhat faster than applying for AOS, so was sometimes used to circumvent long backlogs of over two years in some cases.

However, due to recent efficiency improvements by the USCIS, it is not clear whether applying via consular processing is faster than the regular AOS process. Consular processing is also thought to be riskier since there is no or very little recourse for appeal if the officer denies the application. Green card lottery[ edit ] Main article: Diversity Immigrant Visa Each year, around 50, immigrant visas are made available through the Diversity Visa DV program, also known as the Green Card Lottery to people who were born in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States fewer than 50, immigrants in the past five years.

Applicants can only qualify by country of chargeability , not by citizenship. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. They can also file for their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of If already in the U. The new immigrant receives a stamp on the visa as proof of lawful admittance to the United States, and the individual is now authorized to live and work permanently in the United States.

Finally, the actual "green card" typically arrives by mail within a few months. Recent developments[ edit ] Over 6. This is an increase from the more than 5. Taking into account dependents, there are more than 10 million participants in the Diversity Visa Lottery. Most of the applications were from Africa and Asia: The largest number of applicants came from Bangladesh more than 1. Normally somewhat fewer than , applicants will be announced as winners to ensure that all 50, green cards will be issued.

For the fiscal year there were 5, Bangladesh, 8, Nigerian and 5, of the Ukrainian applications declared as winners. At the end, 46, were issued in FY , 3, less than planned.


United States lawful permanent residency, informally known as having a green card, is the immigration status of a person authorized to live and work in the United States of America permanently. Green cards are valid for 10 years for permanent residents, and 2 years for conditional permanent residents. More Quality Inclusions Than any other resorts on the planet. Enjoy all-inclusive luxury vacations at Sandals Caribbean resorts and see for yourself why we offer the most romantic getaways with more quality inclusions than any other luxury beach resort.

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