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Tips for Getting a Green Card

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

If you wish to reside permanently in the United States, you must obtain lawful permanent resident status. This is commonly known as holding a “green card.” Expiration of the actual green card, though, does not affect your status. Unlike a driver’s license, the expiration of which prohibits you from driving, an expired green card does not change your lawful permanent resident status. It merely means you don’t have valid, physical evidence of your status.

As a lawful permanent resident, you are allowed to reside permanently in the United States, travel in and out of the United States, and work for whomever you please, even for yourself. You may not vote in any local, state or federal election, though, and you can lose your status if you are convicted of certain crimes, violate certain aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or reside outside the United States.

How do you obtain a green card?

You can obtain lawful permanent resident status in two ways. The first is by obtaining an immigrant visa from a U.S. consulate outside the U.S. This is called “consular processing.” You or someone else on your behalf must file an immigrant visa petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking permanent residence in the U.S. If you are eligible, and if the visa petition is granted, you will be scheduled for a visa appointment at the U.S. consulate in your home country. After receiving the visa stamp in your passport, you will be authorized to travel to the U.S. and present the visa to a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer when you arrive. You will then be admitted as a lawful permanent resident, and a green card will be mailed to you a few weeks after you your admission.

The second avenue for obtaining a green card is by a procedure known as “adjustment of status.” This is generally available if you are in the U.S., were previously lawfully inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States, are not subject to any ground of inadmissibility, and are eligible for lawful permanent resident status. You do not have to return to your home country to apply for a visa. You file your visa petition and your green card application together with USCIS. You will then be interviewed by USCIS if you are adjusting status based on a family visa petition. You may also be interviewed if you are adjusting status based on an employment visa petition. If USCIS deems you eligible, your petition will be approved and USCIS will mail you a green card.

What kinds of questions will I have to answer to obtain a green card?

Whether you seek lawful permanent resident status via consular processing or adjustment of status, you will be asked many questions to determine your eligibility. These questions will cover any past criminal activity, prior entries into the U.S., family members, and all the grounds of inadmissibility contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act. It is of the utmost importance that you answer all questions truthfully. Failing to do so can render you ineligible.

You will also be fingerprinted, and your prints will be submitted to the FBI. So it will be almost impossible to conceal a past criminal arrest or conviction. This also includes traffic citations.

Regarding family members and previous marriages, you must list all previous marriages as well as all children, regardless of where they reside or whether you have a relationship with them.

Finally, you will be required to answer questions regarding previous entries to the U.S., legal or otherwise. Consequences may attach if you ever entered the U.S. without inspection or overstayed a previous authorized period of stay. In some situations, you could be barred from admission to the U.S. for three or ten years.

It is hard to know whether you are subject to a ground of inadmissibility that cannot be waived. The last thing you want is to have your green card application be denied or, even worse, to be placed in removal proceedings.

We Can Answer Your Green Card Application Questions

Our attorneys have combined experience of almost 100 years in immigration law and the green card application process. If you are planning to file for a green card, contact us at 404-850-9394 or visit us at

After consulting with you, we can give you peace of mind that your application will be correctly filed and free of any issues that could result in delay or denial.

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