An official Permanent Resident Card, commonly referred to as a Green Card, authorizes an immigrant to live and work permanently in the United States. This card was named after its color when first issued shortly after World War II.
To apply, you will need a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident (LPR), or an employer to act as your sponsor. You may be able to apply without a sponsor in certain circumstances, including:
To apply for a Green Card while in the U.S., you must have entered on a visa either given to you by the U.S. Consulate or your own country’s consulate. The home government issuing a visa gives the recipient the right to go to the border or a port of entry to request authorized admittance to the United States.
Issuing a visa involves consular-processing for applicants outside of the U.S. and adjustment-of-status-processing for applicants who are already in the U.S. Either way, the issuance of the visa depends in part on whether there is a visa available in the applicant’s category.
The Department of State (DOS) has published these worldwide limits by category for visas issued in fiscal year 2018. They include:
For a total of 226,000 family visas in 2018.
For a total of 140,000 employment-related visas in 2018.
The current environment surrounding American immigration law is in a greater state of flux than at any time since the 1986 passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act introduced in 2017 in the U.S. Senate would reduce the annual number of Green Cards issued and legal immigration to the U.S. by 50%. It would also impose a cap on refugee immigration at 50,000 annually and would do away with the visa lottery altogether.
In addition, the RAISE Act would replace the eligibility categories above for employment-related visas with a new point system weighted in favor of relatively higher paying jobs, English test scores, younger ages (max points for being 25), degrees earned in STEM, capital investment in the U.S., and extraordinary achievements such as winning a Nobel Prize. While the RAISE Act may not gain the support required for passage, its basic ideas may influence legislative alternatives throughout the remainder of the 115th Congress.
At best, applying for a Green Card and pursuing U.S. citizenship is a complicated process. Competent legal representation, always an important factor for success, has never been more crucial than in these uncertain times. We strongly recommend reaching out to our New York immigration attorneys at Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP, for a consultation about your unique situation. Give us a call at 800-223-2814 or schedule an appointment online.
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