FAQ Green Card
Qualifying for the Green Card sounds like a tough nut to crack, however, this is not always the case. Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about this category.
If you have more questions please contact us.
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is an official ID document which grants authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Green Card holders are formally known as lawful permanent residents.
The EB-1A Green Card is a Green Card option based on the EB-1A Visa. To win an extraordinary ability case requires extensive documentation and excellent petition skills of the attorney. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicating officers evaluate cases on the evidence presented against statutorily defined requirements. Officers reviewing petitions look for aliens whose cases demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and essentially present themselves, with extensive documentation, as “one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” [8CFR Section 204.5(h)(2)]. To satisfy the legal criteria for an EB-1A, applicants must present one of two types of evidence: either a one-time, major international award such as a Nobel Prize or Pulitzer, or fulfilling at least 3 out of 10 qualifications stipulated in C.F.R. § 204.5(h)(3).
In order to get an EB-1A Visa, you have to also show that you are coming to the U.S. to continue to work in your field of extraordinary ability and that your entry to the United States will substantially benefit the United States.
One of the main benefits of the EB-1A is that it does not require a PERM Labor Certification or a job offer from a U.S. employer. Instead, the applicant can file a “self-petition” on the USCIS I-140 form and submit required evidence. Once your I-140 is approved and your priority date is current, you will need to submit your I-485 Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status to change your status to EB-1A. If the USCIS approves this application, you will officially be a legal permanent resident in the U.S.
A Green Card provides many advantages. Primarily, it gives you the right to permanently live and work in the United States and, after 5 years, to become a U.S. citizen. With a Green Card, you can also exercise almost all the rights that a U.S. citizen has without having to give up your current citizenship, and travel freely between countries. Also, Green Card holders can sponsor their immediate family members to live in the United States. By USCIS’s definition, immediate family members are spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
Employment-based Green Cards are valid for a period of ten years. At the end of the validation period, you will need to apply to renew your EB-1A. As long as you have maintained your status, you should not have a problem renewing your Green Card. It is important to keep your card up-to-date. Without a valid card, it may be difficult for you to prove that you are a permanent resident, and this could also affect your ability to travel or to prove your eligibility to work in the United States.
No job offer or permanent job position is required in this subcategory, so long as the individual will continue working in the field of expertise after arriving in the United States. Self-petition is allowed.
The Green Card permits holders to live permanently in the U.S. However, it has a specific validity period after which it expires. For a replacement or renewal of the Green Card, you must apply with an I-90 form (either online or by paper). This form is the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You also have to pay a filing fee. Both the form and the fee must be submitted to the USCIS. The application form and its filling instructions are available online on the USCIS website.
Once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your renewal form, you can expect to wait 10–16 months for it to be processed. However, if your application is not prepared correctly, the timeline will increase. The time it takes varies according to a number of factors, including:
- whether you have properly completed all forms,
- whether you have properly submitted all supporting documents,
- the scheduling of your biometric appointment, and
- the current workload of the USCIS.
Applying for and receiving your Green Card takes time. The processing time to obtain an EB-1 Green Card typically depends on the applicant’s ability to complete the required documentation accurately. An error in the application can extend EB-1 processing time significantly. The processing time also depends on how quickly the USCIS is able to process the application. Currently, the approval of an extraordinary ability petition, filed with USCIS form I-140, is taking at least 6-8 months from the date that the initial petition is submitted to the USCIS. Once the EB-1A has been approved, the government takes about 6 months to issue permanent residence. These times are only relevant if the EB-1 category is current. Applicants can check category status at the DOS Visa Bulletin.
Surprisingly, the color of the card is not actually green. Although it was green many years ago, it is tan nowadays. The front of a Green Card shows biographic information, including given name, surname, country of birth, day of birth, sex, card expiration date, USCIS number, category, date of admission as a permanent resident, fingerprint, a photo of the Green Card holder, and a hologram. The back of a Green Card has an optical stripe that can be quickly scanned by government agencies to gather all of the relevant card information.
Immigration laws in the United States provide immigrants with various methods for getting a Green Card. Your eligibility category will determine which path to a Green Card is most relevant to you. Aside from marrying a U.S. citizen, there are several ways to obtain permanent residency in the U.S, including:
- a petition from an employer – your employer can be part of your petition for a Green Card if you’ve received a job offer for permanent employment in the United States.
- a petition based on extraordinary abilities – this Green Card is known as an EB-1A Visa. These applicants are considered the best in their field.
- sponsorship by a close relative who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident – if you’re a close relative to a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder, they can petition for you to obtain legal permanent residency (spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, or parents of U.S. citizens who are over 21 years old)
- the U.S. Department of State diversity lottery program – this program allows those from countries with low immigration rates to the United States to enter for a chance to apply for a U.S. immigrant Visa.
- being a Refugee or an Asylee – refugees and asylees can apply for a Green Card one year after receiving their grant of asylum or refugee status.
Stage I – I-140 Application: There are 2 options for filing fees:
- I-140 Filing Fee: $700 – regular processing. It takes an average of 8-16 months to get a decision,
- I-140 Premium Processing Fee (optional): $2,500 – The USCIS will issue the decision within 15 calendar days.
Stage II – Permanent Residence Application. There are 2 options of applying:
- The Adjustment of Status – this can only be filed while a person is in the United States.
- I-485. Filing Fee (above the age of 14) costs $1140.
- I-485. Filing Fee (under the age of 14) costs $750.
- Biometric Service Fee (for applicants between the ages of 14-78) costs $85.
- Medical Examination fee costs approx. $200.
- Green Card Issuance costs $220.
- Consular Processing for Permanent Residence – filed while a person is outside the U.S.
- DS-260 Filing fee: $325
Applying within the United States:
- Find your Receipt Number – This is the 13-character number on Form I-797C. You should have received a copy in the mail after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received your application,
- Visit the USCIS’ Case Status Online Tracker,
- Enter your Receipt Number and click Check Status.
You can also check your case status by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Prepare your receipt number before the call.
Applying from outside the United States:
- Find your Immigrant Visa Case Number – It will be three letters followed by ten numbers on the notification letter or email that you received from the NVC,
- Visit the NVC’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC),
- Click Check My Visa Application Status,
- In the Visa Application field, select IMMIGRANT VISA (IV).
You are allowed to apply for citizenship after 5 years of holding a Permanent Resident Green Card, or after 3 years if you’re filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. Despite the five years (or 3 years) of permanent residence requirement, you are actually allowed to submit your naturalization application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the 90-days leading up to the end of your 3- or 5-year wait period as a Green Card holder.
A Green Card number, also known as the receipt number, is an individually assigned number by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This 13-digit number is printed on every Green Card. It usually begins with 3 letters followed by 10 numbers, and is located at the bottom on the back of the card, directly in the first line of this long set of characters.
The O-1A Visa is a dual intent status that applies to experts from an array of different fields, be it STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) or the arts. It applies to high-level professionals, entrepreneurs, athletes, and artists. The EB-1A Green Cards, like the O-1 Visas, can be obtained by an array of experts namely: academics, researchers, scientists, doctors, educators, business executives, and other high-level professionals who are experts in their line of work. The O-1A Visa is given to aliens with extraordinary abilities who do not have the intention to immigrate to the U.S., while the EB-1A Green Card is given to people with extraordinary abilities who have the intent to immigrate and permanently live in the U.S. Although the kind of evidence that applicants need to provide to prove their abilities in both of these cases is similar, the intent for the Visas differs. There are a few other notable differences between these two types of Visas.
The granted duration of an alien’s stay in the U.S.
The O-1A Visa only allows temporary residence of up to three years in the country, while the EB-1A provides applicants with permanent residency. Similarly, O-1A Visa holders will not automatically be approved for an EB-1A since the two categories have different terms for acceptance.
The two are not interchangeable
The requirements for an EB-1A Green Card are much more intensive than that of an O-1A Visa. EB-1A candidates should be able to show considerable proof that they are at the top of their field, in other words, the best at what they do. In fact, an applicant with remarkable achievements can self-petition for it and will not need an employer to sponsor them. Unlike the EB-1A, all O-1A Visa applications require sponsorship.
Differences in rights granted to the family
Another difference between the two is the rights that are granted to family members. O-1A Visa holders’ spouses and children will not automatically receive the right to work in the U.S. More than likely, they will be granted O-3 Visas, which will allow them to study in the U.S. but not to work. However, spouses and dependents of EB-1A holders are also granted Green Cards upon approval, as long as the children applying as dependents are under the age of 21.
There is no minimum time that you need to wait to submit an application for a Green Card after getting your O-1A approval. After making sure that you meet the EB-1A requirements and obtaining the necessary evidence, you can file Form I-140. When the I-140 application is approved and your date is current, the application for an adjustment of status from O-1A to permanent resident can be submitted.
PassRight has maintained a high success rate for this category, with an overall approval rate close to 100%. According to the USCIS data, the I-140 approval rate for this employment-based Green Card category ranges from 83% to 96%.
Each year, thousands of foreign professionals gain permanent residency through the EB-2 NIW. A person applying for this category must show that his or her qualifications are significant enough to prove prospective national benefit. This category is favorable towards foreign nationals with advanced degrees, progressive work experience, or impressive past accomplishments – especially those working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupations. If you meet the general criteria, your chances of success depend primarily on how your case is presented.
It depends. The priority date for EB-2 NIW is not current for people born in these two countries, and you may have to wait several years before you can apply for a Green Card. The best option for people from China or India is the EB-1A category, where the priority date is current for all nationalities. If you do not qualify for this option, you may apply for the EB-2 NIW to secure your priority date and also submit an H-1B extension.
No, the EB-2 NIW approval does not give you any sort of work authorization. If you are in the U.S., you need to make sure that you have a valid work Visa such as the O-1, H-1B or E-2. You may also concurrently file for an adjustment of status to obtain work authorization within 5-6 months. Talk to our team to find out what options would work best for you.