The immigration attorneys and legal professionals at Godoy Law Firm work with many Green Card applicants every year, and we are asked many of the same questions over and over. Here are the five most frequently asked questions about getting a green card.
1. Do I need a Green Card to become a U.S. Citizen?
Yes. To become a naturalized United States citizen, you must have a valid Green Card. Some people with a green card (lawful permanent residence can apply for naturalized U.S. citizenship after 3 years, but most green card holders must wait 5 years to become a citizen.
The exceptions to the 5-year rule are:
• If you are married to a U.S. citizen you must wait 3 years
• If you are an asylee you must wait 4 years after you receive your green card
• If you are a refugee you must wait 5 years from your date of U.S. entry rather than the date you were approved for permanent residence
• If you are a current or former military member or spouse of a military member who died during active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, special rules apply
2. How much does it cost to apply for a green card?
• The I-130 immigrant visa application filing fee is $535.00.
• The green card application is free on the USCIS website, the main green card application document is Form I-485, the filing fee is generally $1,140.
• If biometric data is required, there is an $85 fee.
Each immigration application is unique, and some of the filing fees above may change based on your personal circumstances.
3. How do I apply for the Green Card Lottery?
The U.S. State Department Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2021), commonly called the visa lottery, will have 55,000 diversity visas available for Fiscal Year 2021. The Visa Lottery 2021 program provides green cards and legal residence for citizens from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
4. What documents are required to apply for a Green Card?
The following documents are generally required to apply for a green card. Not every document applies to every green card application.
• Birth certificate
• Marriage certificate
• Financial documents
• Proof of sponsor’s U.S. citizenship or permanent residence
• Proof of lawful U.S. entry and status
• Police clearance certificate
• Prior-marriage termination papers
• Court, police, and prison records
• Military records
• Immigration violation records
5. How long does a Green Card last?
There are two types of green cards:
• A Legal Permanent Residency with no conditions: A Green Card that expires in 10 years and can be renewed.
• 2-year Conditional Permanent Resident: A Green Card that expires in 2 years and cannot be renewed. You must file a petition to remove conditions from your residency status.
The type of Green Card you have will determine what action you need to take to file for renewal if it is expired or expiring. It’s important that you keep your green card status current.
Bonus FAQ: Do I need an attorney to apply for my Green Card?
When filing for your green card you have 2 main options:
1. DIY Do It Yourself
This may be confusing and you can waste time and money trying to figure out the application forms you need to file. We have found that if the filing is done incorrectly you may lose time, money, and negatively impact those that you care about.
2. Hire An Immigration Lawyer
hiring an experienced immigration lawyer can save time and money and prevent your immigration application from being delayed or even denied.
The increasingly complex rules governing legal admission to and naturalization in the United States has made the immigration process difficult to understand. With experience in many immigration cases, Mario Godoy and the other experienced immigration attorneys at the Godoy Law Office can assess your situation and advise you on your best options. Call today at 855-554-6369.