What Are the Key Steps for Applying for a U.S. Green Card?


Quick Answer

The first step when applying for a green card is to confirm eligibility. The applicant then files an immigrant petition and checks if a visa is available, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Next, the applicant files Form I-485 and goes for fingerprint processing and an interview.

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Full Answer

An applicant can be eligible for a green card under different categories; these are family-based, job-based, refugee or asylum status, among other ways, states USCIS. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen can qualify for a family-based green card. They do not have to wait for a visa to be available to apply, and they include parents, spouses and children who are under 21 years old and unmarried. The citizen must be at least 21 years of age to be able to apply for his parents.

Job-based eligibility comes in different categories; first preference includes priority workers, such as people with great abilities, remarkable researchers and professors, and some multinational managers and executives, explains USCIS. Members of professions with advanced degrees fall in the second preference, while skilled workers fall in the third preference. Special immigrants, such as those in religious vocations and investors, fall in the fourth and fifth preferences respectively.

People living in the United States apply through a process called adjustment of status, while those outside the country follow consular processing, reports USCIS.

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