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How to Apply for a Green Card in the USA — A Comprehensive Guide for Citizens living in the UK

18 Oct 2019 - Category: Local regulation
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If you wish to move to the US, to chase your ‘American Dream’ then you are not alone. Thousands of Citizens living in the UK immigrate to the US, each year to pursue better career opportunities. The US indeed offers more specialized jobs for those involved in the fields of IT, Media, Telecommunications and Research. So, if you are planning to relocate from the UK to the US, then there are certain immigration procedures that you need to be aware of. That’s because plunging into the details or having a word with an immigration attorney requires sound knowledge of these procedures. So, we have done the research and compiled all the necessary information that you need to apply for a Green Card.

What is a Green Card?

To reside indefinitely in the US, those hailing from another country must hold the ‘Lawful Permanent Resident Card’, which is best known as the Green card. This card issued by the US Immigration Authorities, confirms their consent to let the immigrant lawfully reside in the US, on a permanent basis. So, the Green Card is an immigrant visa, which indicates your desire to stay and work in the US, on a permanent basis. There are several ways in which one can get a Green Card in the US, which includes the US Green Card Lottery, Green Card through Family, Green Card through Asylum, Green Card through Employment and more. Let us now discuss the most important and widely explored options to get a Green Card in the US.

How to participate in the US Green Card Lottery

The Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery or the US Green card lottery is a system that permits under- represented immigrants from qualifying nations, to apply for a Green card. The US immigration authorities have invited applications for the year 2021, between 2 nd October 2019 and 5 th November 2019.  Every year, over eighteen million individuals from underrepresented countries participate in this lucky draw, out of which only a small fraction are randomly chosen by a computer program.

A point to note is that those hailing from the UK cannot currently apply through this system because the is no longer a qualifying nation, and is adequately represented in the US. However, those hailing from Northern Ireland, Ireland and certain other European countries can still participate in it. So, if you are from the Northern Ireland region, you can still go ahead and chase your American dream before it’s too late and Northern Ireland is also adequately represented in the US.  

How to get a Family Green Card?

If you have a spouse, parent or child who is a US Citizen, then it becomes a whole lot easier for you to apply for a Green Card. So if you have a spouse or a child (aged above 21 years) who is a US citizen, then you can apply for a Green Card under this category. Also children of US citizens, who are aged below 21 years, can apply for a Green Card under this program.

Under the Family Green Card, the US Immigration laws also permit spouse and children of Asylees and Refugees to apply for a Green Card. However, this only includes children that had not attained 21 years of age, when the Asylee or Refugee first applied for it. This process involves a shorter waiting period and is relatively faster, especially when you are the spouse of a US Citizen.

Also, spouses and children of those who are in the US military, or the surviving relatives of those who served in the US military qualify for expedited processing of the Green Card. However, the most common reasons for those hailing from the UK to relocate to the US are employment and marriage.

Getting an Employment or Work-related Green Card

This is the second most common method of applying for a Green Card, which opens up the gates to permanent residency for those on a student visa or a non-immigrant visa. This type of Green Card is classified into three categories — EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3. This classification is preferential, in the order in which it has been stated, and is made based on the individual’s level of expertise, skill, and education. However, getting a US Green Card through this mode isn’t easy because it requires sponsorship from a US-based Employer. Also, it requires the Employers to first explore the possibilities of hiring existing Green Card holders and citizens. Only when that isn’t possible, the US- based Employer can sponsor someone else who is super-specialized and can fill in that void.  

Green Card through Investment in the US

To boost the economy, the US also invites immigrant visa applications from Entrepreneurs under the EB-5 category. This option is available to those who can invest a minimum of 1.8 million dollars or nine hundred thousand dollars in certain areas classified as Targeted Employment Areas (TEA). The EB-5 also covers the Entrepreneur’s spouse and unmarried children aged below 21 years. However, not everyone can afford this because the EB-5 also requires the Entrepreneur to provide full-time employment opportunities to at least ten US citizens.

Other ways to apply for a Green Card in the US is when you seek asylum in the US or are a victim of abuse by a US Citizen or someone who is lawfully residing in the US, or a victim of human trafficking. Victims of abuse include abused spouses, parents, and children. Also, those who are covered under the ‘Special Immigrant’ category can apply for a Green Card in the US. Above-stated formalities should give you a fair clue about the various modes available to apply for a Green Card in the US. However, before applying for it, you need to be aware of the various rules and restrictions, which you would be subjecting yourself to. This includes a restriction on traveling outside the US, without an advance parole document when your Green Card application is pending. In fact, doing that would automatically abandon your Green Card application. Also, once you have a Green Card, you need a re-entry permit if you plan to stay outside the US for a longer period.

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