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Frequently, one of the main goals of immigrants is to obtain a Green Card as a way to legally establish themselves in the United States. 

Therefore, if you want to know how to obtain the Green Card being Chilean, Colombian, Mexican, from Spain, being in Argentina or any other place, call us. 

At Lluis Law we help you evaluate your chances to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States.


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How Can I Obtain The Green Card In The United States In 2024

To get a Green Card, you must first qualify in one of the different eligibility categories that provide access to lawful permanent residence in the U. S. 

This depends on several factors, such as:

  • Citizenship status of a family member who could sponsor you. 
  • Application through an employer, or 
  • Through asylum or refuge in America.

You can apply for lawful permanent residence through adjustment of status or consular processing. This depends on whether you are inside or outside the U. S.

Before going into more detail about how to get the Green Card or lawful permanent residence papers in the United States, let’s get to know better what this card is about.

What Is The Green Card And What Is It For In The United States?

The Green Card is an identity document that allows you to live and work permanently in the United States.

This document is a plastic card that contains the photograph, fingerprint, expiration date and biographical information of the holder.

Simply put, this card identifies you as a lawful permanent resident.

Green Card Eligibility Categories

There are several eligibility categories in which you can apply for the Green Card in the United States. These are:

Family Petition

Foreign nationals may be eligible for a petition via family-based immigration if they have an immediate American relative. For example, parents, spouses or children under 21 years of age. 

To do this, the sponsoring family member must submit a Form I-130 to USCIS. If approved, the foreigner will be included on a waiting list to obtain residency in the U. S.

In this category, immigrants widowed by American citizens also apply. However, they must meet certain requirements, such as proving that the marriage was in good faith. 

For more information about family requests, visit our sections:

Through Employment

Immigrant workers may be eligible for a Green Card in several ways. 

For example, you may qualify for the EB-1 visa if you possess extraordinary abilities or are a leading professional in your field. Other similar options are visas: 

If you are interested in investing in the U. S, you could consider the immigrant investor program (EB-5). 

There are also specific opportunities for physicians who agree to work full-time in areas of low medical access. 

general application process for the green card

The steps to take to apply for a Green Card in the United States depend on your particular scenario and are variable. Those shown in the image are the most common in the general application process. That is, they are what the majority of those who apply for the Green Card will go through.

As a Special Immigrant

Another way to apply for the lawful permanent residence process in the United States is through the special immigrant category being one of the following:

  • Religious Worker: Foreigners with an Religious worker visa who work in a U. S. nonprofit religious organization often apply .
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Applies to immigrant minors who need legal protection due to abuse, abandonment or neglect of their parents.
  • Afghan or Iraqi National: Available to those who have worked as an Afghan or Iraqi translator for the U. S. or the U. S. government in Iraq. It also applies to ISAF Afghan workers.
  • International media representative: For members of the media of the U. S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).
  • Employee of an international or NATO organization: For retired officials, current employees and their families.

Through Refuge Or Asylum

This Green Card category is available to foreigners one year after:

Victims Of Human Trafficking And Other Crimes

Immigration law protects victims of certain crimes, so it is possible to obtain lawful permanent residence if you have suffered a crime, such as human trafficking. To do this, you must pre-qualify for a T visa or a U visa.

Victims Of Certain Abuses

If you have been a victim of abuse or extreme cruelty, you may be eligible for a Green Card through one of the following options:

  • If you are married to an American citizen or lawful permanent resident and have suffered abuse, then you may be eligible for a VAWA visa. This also applies to parents and children who are victims of abuse by an American.
  • Spouse or children victims of abuse of a Cuban citizen, then you could apply to the Cuban Adjustment Act.
  • You are the spouse or child who suffered abuse by a lawful permanent resident who obtained their Green Card under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA).

Through Other Categories 

If you meet any of the following criteria, you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card:

  • Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act: If you are a Liberian who meets certain requirements or are the spouse or child of an eligible Liberian national.
  • Diversity Visa Program: If you were selected in the Department of State visa lottery.
  • Lautenberg Program: For those granted entry permission to the U. S. as a Lautenberg Parolee.
  • Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act of 2000: For citizens of Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos who obtained permission to enter the US after meeting certain requirements. 
  • American Indian born in Canada: If you have 50% or more blood of the American Indian race and were born in Canada.
  • U. S-born individuals who are children of foreign diplomats: When the official’s child was born while the official was in the U. S.
  • Section 13 (diplomatic): If you were stationed in the United States as a foreign diplomat or high-ranking official and cannot return to your country. You may be interested in reading about the diplomatic visa .

Through Registration

If you have lived continuously in the United States since before January 1, 1972, you may be eligible to apply for residency.

As we have seen, you can obtain a Green Card for work, for marriage, via a family member petition, for investment and even as a student. 

For the latter, you will require a US student visa and meet other criteria.

What Documents Do I Need To Apply For The Green Card?

Typically, to apply for lawful permanent residence, most applicants must complete 2 forms: 

  • Form I-130, or I-140, which is a family- or employment-based immigrant petition, and
  • Form I-485, which is the Green Card application.
common ways to obtain the green card

It should be noted that depending on your request, you may be required to submit other forms, such as:

  • I-730 Petition;
  • I-589 Application;
  • I-360 Petition;
  • Form I-526;
  • Form I-918;
  • I-929 Petition.

You may also be required to complete Form DS-260 if you reside outside the U. S. This form is processed through the National Visa Center (NVC) and the U. S. embassy or consulate abroad.

The documents to request residency vary depending on the category to which you belong. Therefore, we recommend the assistance of our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles to gather all the necessary documentation. 

General Steps To Apply For The Green Card

Typically, most applicants take the following steps to obtain a Green Card:

  1. File the immigrant petition. This is usually done by another individual or by yourself in certain cases.
  2. Submit the Green Card application. After approval of the petition by USCIS, you must file a Green Card application with USCIS or a visa application with the Department of State.
  3. Attend a biometrics appointment. This will be to provide your fingerprints, photographs and signature.
  4. Wait for the interview.
  5. Receive the decision on your application.

Steps To Track The Delivery Of The Green Card

To ensure you receive updates and important documentation about your immigration case, follow these steps:

  1. Create an online account with USCIS to check the status of your case and receive updates about your case.
  2. Sign up for Informed Delivery through USPS to set up email and text message alerts.
  3. If your USPS tracking information indicates that your package was delivered but you did not receive it, please contact your local post office immediately.
  4. If you change your mailing address after submitting your application, update it as soon as possible with both USCIS and USPS. 

Note: Failure to update your address could result in delays in your case, loss of documents, and the need to resubmit your application.

How To Obtain The Green Card If I Have A Tourist Visa?

It is not possible to directly obtain the Green Card if you have a tourist visa. This is because it is a temporary visa and not a visa to immigrate to the US.

However, there are some ways to obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States as a tourist, the most common being through the fiancé visa. That is, marrying an American. 

This is a complex topic, so we advise you to contact us.

Can I Get A Green Card If I Am Illegal?

Generally, a foreigner who enters the U. S. illegally without inspection by a border agent cannot obtain a Green Card. 

However, there are exceptions to this rule, so we advise you to consult with our immigration attorneys.

Green card by marriage

How Much Does The Green Card Cost In 2024?

The price to apply for the Green Card varies depending on the type of application made. However, it is generally around $2,000:

  • I-485 : Varies between $950 and $1,440.
  • For a family petition (I-130): Between $625 and $675.
  • For an immigrant petition for alien workers (I-140): $715.

It should be noted that there are other related costs such as legal fees, biometric fees and others. Therefore, the final price may increase.

What Are The Benefits Of Obtaining The Green Card?

Being a Green Card holder offers a series of benefits such as:

  • Ability to live and work permanently in the United States.
  • Opportunity to apply for U. S. citizenship in the future.
  • Protection against deportation.
  • Legal security under U. S. laws.
  • Ability to sponsor family members in their residency application.
  • Ease of travel, both internationally and within the U. S.
  • Freedom to reside anywhere in the country.
  • Eligibility for certain federal benefits, including financial aid for education and Social Security.

Limitations Of Having A Green Card

Although you can enjoy most of the benefits as U. S. citizens, you will face some limitations:

  • You cannot vote in U. S. elections until you obtain citizenship.
  • Your Green Card is not transferable and is not automatically extended to those born outside the United States.
  • You cannot run for political office in the United States.
  • You cannot obtain a U. S. passport until you obtain citizenship.
  • If you leave the U. S. permanently after 8 years or more, you are subject to expatriation and exit taxes.
  • If you commit certain crimes, USCIS cannot protect you from deportation.
  • You must renew your residence card every 10 years.
immigration lawyers specializing in deportation

Are you in removal proceedings? Our lawyers are specialists in deportations, so we can help you. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Lawful Permanent Residency In The United States?

According to the USCIS report, the promised time to process the Green Card varies between 6 to 13 months or more. 

This will largely depend on the type of application, whether it is family-based or employment-based. Likewise, you can check the USCIS processing time online.

Can My Green Card Application Be Denied?

USCIS may deny a Green Card application if it finds the applicant inadmissible to the U. S. Some common causes include:

  • Certain medical problems.
  • Criminal record.
  • Suspected national security risk.
  • Fraud or intentional misrepresentation.
  • Lack of evidence or incomplete application.
  • Errors during the application process.

Another reason is usually for unlawful presence in the United States. To avoid all this, it is essential to seek legal help when submitting a residency application.

Our experts can guide you through the process and help you avoid potential problems in the process.

If you are inadmissible to the U. S. you may be able to file for an immigration waiver of inadmissibility. We can also help you clear your criminal record.

How Do I Appeal If My Green Card Application Is Rejected?

If your application is denied, you will receive a letter explaining why. It is not possible to appeal this decision, but you have the option of filing a motion to reopen or reconsider.

With a motion to reopen, you must provide new facts and relevant evidence. In a motion for reconsideration, you must show that the law was incorrectly applied.

For more information on the topic, check our section on the immigration appeal process.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Obtain A Green Card In The United States

guide to obtain the green card

What Is The Difference Between Lawful Permanent Resident And American Citizen?

A lawful permanent resident is a foreign national authorized to live and work legally in the United States. 

On the other hand, an American citizen is one who was born in the United States or has become an American citizen through naturalization.

Additionally, American citizens enjoy all the rights and duties established by the Constitution, but lawful permanent residents have limited privileges.

Should I Renew My Green Card?

The short answer is yes, it is necessary to renew the Green Card. This is because the lawful permanent resident card is valid for 10 years. 

We recommend that you should apply for renewal if:

  • The Green Card is about to expire; either
  • You need to request removal of conditions before your US conditional permanent resident card (valid for 2 years) expires.

The process to acquire residency in the United States and the steps necessary to do so are complex. Contact us to help you from start to finish.

How To Maintain Lawful Permanent Residence?

There are certain requirements necessary to maintain your Green Card:

  • Live mainly in the United States.
  • Pay federal and state taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Be registered with the Selective Service if you are a man between 18 and 26 years of age.
  • Notify address changes to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • Apply for a re-entry permit if you leave the country for more than a year.

When To Replace The Green Card?

Generally, the Green Card must be replaced if:

  • It expires, is lost, stolen or destroyed.
  • You received it before you turned 14 and you are now 14.
  • You were previously a frequent traveler but will now take up formal residence in the United States. This also applies the other way around.
  • Your immigration status has automatically become LPR.
  • You have an older version of an alien registration document (AR-3, AR-103 or I-151) and need to replace it with the Green Card.
  • Your card contains incorrect information.
  • You have legally changed your name or other biographical information.
  • You never received the previous card issued by USCIS.

How To Replace The Green Card?

To replace your Green Card, you must: 

  • File Form I-90: Complete and submit Form I-90 online or by mail to replace your Green Card.
  • Monitor your application: You can track the progress of your application, receive updates, and communicate directly with USCIS.
  • Receive your new Green Card: If your application is approved, USCIS will mail you a new Green Card.
  • Use the receipt notice as proof: If you are renewing your Green Card and have not yet received a biometric appointment, you can use the receipt notice as proof of your legal status for 24 months after your card’s expiration date.
  • Request an ADIT stamp if necessary: ​​You may require an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp if you need evidence of your immigration status while waiting for your replacement card.
  • File Form I-90 upon returning to the U.S. if you are outside the country: If you are outside the U. S. and your Green Card is about to expire, file this form as soon as you return to the country.
  • File Form I-751 if your Green Card is conditional: If you have a conditional Green Card, file Form I-751 to request the removal of conditions on your permanent resident status.

How Can Our Immigration Attorneys Help You Obtain A Green Card?

The Green Card application process can be complex, long and full of legal technicalities. Therefore, having an experienced immigration attorney at your side can offer numerous advantages that increase your chances of success.

Each case is unique and has its own circumstances. Our attorneys will be able to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and provide you with personalized advice on the best way to proceed. 

We hope that this guide on how to obtain the Green Card and carry out the immigration process for residence in the U. S. has been useful to you. 

Remember that for any case related to immigration matters, the lawyers at Lluis Law are at your disposal. In addition, our professionals and assistants are Latino and we speak Spanish and English. 


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