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 How to Get a Green Card USCIS - Greenwood Law

How to Get a Green Card in NC: A Guide


Getting a green card can be an exciting time in an immigrant’s life. Perhaps you’ve had family living in the U.S. and have dreamed of joining them for many years. Or, you would like to start a new life with your family and give them increased opportunities for employment, education, or recreation. While many look forward to starting a new life, the process can be notoriously difficult. This is why many turn to an experienced immigration attorney for green card help. Before diving into the process of filing for a green card in North Carolina, you should know the basics. For example, what are they exactly, what are the types of green cards available, how do you file, and what would prevent you from doing so?

What is a Green Card?

Green Card, also known as a United States Permanent Resident Card, is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to those wanting to enter the U.S. It grants immigrants lawful permanent residency status, which allows them to live and work in the United States on a long-term basis. Green card status is sometimes used interchangeably with citizenship, which is incorrect. While a Green Card offers many of the same rights and protections, citizenship is different. For example, green card holders do not have the right to vote in federal elections.

There are several ways to get a green card in North Carolina, such as sponsorship by a family member or U.S. employer, refugee or asylee status, humanitarian programs, or by individual filing. The USCIS provides information on eligibility requirements for each type of green card.

Types of Green Cards in North Carolina

The several types of green cards are categorized by their different eligibility requirements. While they can be broken down into three larger categories, the USCIS website provides eight different options for immigrants.

  • Green Cards Through Family – If you are a relative of a U.S. Citizen, such as a spouse, unmarried child, parent, married child, sibling, fiancé, or child of a fiancé. In some instances, the widow or widower of a U.S. Citizen and an abused family member of a U.S. Citizen may be eligible to apply through this category.
  • Green Cards Through Employment – You may be eligible If you are an immigrant worker, are a physician working full time in the States, or are an immigrant investor.
  • Green Card as a Special Immigrant – This category is for religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, Afghanistan or Iraq nationals, International broadcasters, or employees of international organizations.
  • Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status
  • Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims – Also known as T Visas or U Visas.
  • Green Card for Victims of Abuse
  • Green Card Through Other Categories 
  • Green Card Through Registry – If you have resided in the U.S. since Jan 1st, 1972.

What is a Green Card Sponsorship

If you’ve heard of green cards, you’ve likely heard of the word “sponsorship” or someone who “sponsored” an immigrant. What does this term mean? Sponsorship is defined as someone who helps the potential immigrant legally achieve sponsorship. This person assists in many ways, like signing necessary documents, taking on specific responsibilities regarding your U.S. Citizenship, and, in some cases, aiding the process financially. While the majority of green cards are achieved with a sponsor, there are some instances where you can become a U.S. Citizen without a sponsorship, also called self-sponsorship.

How to File for a Green Card

One of the biggest questions in your mind when deciding to pursue U.S. Citizenship is how to go about the process of filing for a green card or the steps you should follow. Every immigrant’s path to citizenship is different, and the type of immigration you are eligible for may affect what your specific steps will look like. Even so, there are general steps that everyone applying for citizenship will have to follow.

It’s important to note that the application process may differ if you are currently physically located outside of the United States. Instead of going through the UCSIC, you would enter into consular processing with the U.S. Department of State. If you are within the United States, your process will look similar to the information that follows.

After you determine the type of immigration you are eligible for, your sponsor will file an immigrant petition for you (or, in rare cases, you will file one for yourself). Then, if USCIS approves and lets you know there is availability, you can move forward with filing an official green card application. You do this through the U.S. Department of State.

After you submit your application and paperwork, there are some additional steps to ensure the validity of your new immigration status. You will have to go through what is called a “biometrics appointment” to provide things like your signature, fingerprints, and photos, and shortly after, you will have an official interview.

After you’ve followed these steps, you will wait to receive a decision on whether or not your green card has been approved. USCIS offers an online account to those who want to keep track of their application without having to wait for mail.

Green Card Application Documents

Obtaining a Green Card in North Carolina involves submitting various documents as part of the application process. Common documents include Form N-550, Form N-570, Form N-560, Form N-561, Form I-551, and more. Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) is the main form used to apply for a Green Card. It includes personal information, immigration history, and other relevant details. 

You will may also need documents that establish your identity, or provide documentation related to a nonimmigrant visa/prior immigration history. Again, the documents required depends on your individual circumstances, visa category, and country of origin. Consulting the USCIS website or seeking professional assistance from a green card immigration attorney in North Carolina can help ensure you have the necessary documents for a successful application.

What Disqualifies You from Getting a Green Card in NC?

While there are several requirements for becoming a green card holder that you may meet, there are some things that will work against you or cause your application to be denied. If you aren’t actually eligible under one of the categories, aren’t timely with your required appointments, miss certain deadlines, have mistakes on your application, don’t have financial support, have broken immigration laws before, or have certain criminal records, you may be denied.

The Role of an Immigration Lawyer in North Carolina

It’s no secret that you aren’t required to have an immigration lawyer. In fact, many do go about it alone. However, this may not be the best idea. The immigration process is complicated. If you have your future and your family’s future in your hands, and need green card help in North Carolina, an immigration attorney’s understanding and experience with this process will be the most valuable asset you have. The knowledge they have will give you a significant advantage and make the process a lot smoother than if you did not use an attorney. Contact Greenwood Law today online for a consultation.

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