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Immigration: Green Cards and U.S. Residency

A New Jersey immigration lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. can help you apply for permanent residence in the United States. Becoming a permanent resident is one of the primary pathways to eventual U.S. citizenship. But you will need an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you through the complex application process.

What is a Green Card?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are granted permanent resident status, better known as a "green card,” which enables you to live and work in the United States. It also enables you to petition for family members to come and live in the U.S. You must be a green card holder if you want to naturalize and become a United States citizen. As long as you live in America, pay your taxes and do not get into trouble with the law, you will probably be eligible for permanent resident status.

There are several ways you may be eligible to get a green card. If you have an immediate relative spouse, parent, or child who is a citizen, you may be eligible. You may also be eligible to apply through your job or employer.

Refugees and asylum seekers may also apply for green cards. If you were persecuted or fear persecution in your home country, you may be able to eventually get a green card. This persecution could have been based on your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, subject to torture or membership in a particular social group. If you can prove this persecution, you may be able to get permanent residence in the United States.

There are many other categories of people eligible for green cards as well. If you suffered domestic violence at the hands of a U.S. citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident spouse, you may be eligible. If you become a victim of a serious crime and assist law enforcement in its investigation, this can eventually lead to a green card. If you are lucky, you can apply for the diversity visa lottery and get a green card. 

Many people worry that because they came here without documents, they cannot get a green card. This is not always true. Many people who have entered the country without authorization can sometimes be eligible to adjust their status. For example, if your U.S. citizen spouse suffered "extreme hardship” due to your absence from the U.S., you may be able to get your green card under the new provision waiver program. Even some people that entered with fake documents can apply for a green card. 

The Path to U.S. Citizenship

For those who qualify, the green card application process is lengthy and complicated. The process is not just about filling out forms. You may also be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you complete the wrong forms or apply when you are not supposed to, you could be deported from the United States. Having an experienced immigration lawyer at your side at each step is important and greatly improves your odds of success.

Once you get a green card, you may choose to naturalize. Usually you must wait five years, or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen, before applying for naturalization. In most cases, once you have naturalized, this is the final step in the immigration process so you cannot be deported from the United States. You will also have all the rights and privileges of native-born citizens, such as voting and working for the federal government. Becoming a U.S. citizen allows you to petition for your parents, married adult children and siblings. However, you must first get your green card before you can become a U.S. citizen.   

Get the Help You Need with New Jersey Immigration Lawyer

Applying for a green card is a long and complex process. Getting the wrong help can hurt. One of our experienced immigration attorneys can help you through the permanent residence application process. Contact a green card lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. today at 856-547-7888. Call Us – Problem Solved.

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