Broward County Immigration Lawyer
A "green card" is the identification document that you receive once you become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in the United States. Lawful permanent residency, or LPR status, is the first necessary step on the path to becoming a U.S. citizen. LPR status allows you to live and work in the U.S. as an immigrant, but it can be taken away under certain conditions.
There are two avenues for obtaining your green card. If you are present in the U.S. and meet certain conditions, you can apply for a green card from within the U.S. by requesting an "adjustment of status." If you are outside of the U.S. when you apply for lawful permanent residency, you will have to apply through the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in your country of origin to obtain an immigrant visa before entering the U.S. as an LPR.
How do I pursue legal permanent residency in the United States?
There are several ways to obtain lawful permanent residency status. Generally speaking, an individual can obtain LPR status through:
- Refugee status / asylum
- The diversity visa lottery
- Several less common categories with humanitarian purposes
Of these methods, family and employment are by far the most common ways to obtain LPR status.
Spouses of U.S. Citizens & Immediate Relatives
The spouses, parents, and minor children of U.S. citizens are immediately eligible to apply for LPR status as soon as their U.S. citizen relative files a petition for them. These family members are considered "immediate relatives," and there is no limit to the number of immigrant visas available to them. Same-sex married couples are now also eligible for family-sponsored visas after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down relevant portions of the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013.
Visas for Other Family Members
Other family members, such as the adult children of U.S. citizens, may experience a significant wait for a visa because the government has a smaller number of immigrant visas available for them. Once their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative files a petition for them, they have to wait for additional visas to become available before they can apply for residency. The length of this wait depends on the family category and the applicant's country of origin. The family-based visa categories for family members who are not immediate relatives are classified as follows:
- F1 unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- F2A spouses and children under 21 years of age of lawful permanent residents
- F2B unmarried adult sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents
- F3 married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- F4 brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens
Once the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident files a petition on the immigrant's behalf, the immigrant is assigned a priority date based on when the petition was filed. This date is is essentially your number in the line, and is issued to determine how long you will have to wait to file for lawful permanent residency.
The U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin is issued every month to show which priority dates currently have visas available for them. Immigrants with those priority dates or earlier ones can apply for lawful permanent residency. See the Visa Bulletin for the most recent issuance by the State Department.
Like family-based residency applications, employment-based (EB) residency applications are broken down by category and assigned certain "preferences," which determine whether there is an immigrant visa immediately available. Instead of family members filing the petition on the immigrant's behalf, however, the U.S. employer files the immigrant petition as the immigrant's sponsor. The employment-based categories are classified as follows:
- EB1 priority workers - people with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors / researchers, and executives and managers of multinational employers
- EB2 advanced degree professionals - exceptional ability and advanced degree professionals
- EB3 professionals and other workers - professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers
- EB4 religious workers and others
- EB5 investors
Most immigrants who fit within the EB2 and EB3 categories must have a labor certification application certified through the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process. The application must be filed with the Department of Labor on the foreign national's behalf by his or her employer. This application must be approved before the employer can file an immigrant petition on their behalf. The purpose of the PERM application is to prove to the U.S. Department of Labor that there are no qualified, eligible, and willing U.S. workers available for the job.
In the employment-based categories, the priority date is assigned based on the delivery of the employer's PERM application to the Department of Labor, if applicable, or the delivery of the employer's immigrant petition to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. See the Visa Law Bulletin page for the most recently updated list of employment priority dates issued by the State Department. If you have questions about applying for employment-based residency, talk to Broward County immigration lawyer Andrea Montavon-McKillip, who can help walk you through the process.
Green Cards for Citizens / Natives of Cuba
The Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act of 1996 (CAA) provides lawful permanent residence to Cuban refugees who are admissible, eligible as immigrants, and who have been present in the United States for at least one year. Even if you do not meet the usual eligibility standards found in Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you can still be eligible for lawful permanent residency as a Cuban national. There is no limit on the number of applications that can be approved every year in this category.
In addition, even if you did not arrive in the United States via a port of entry, such as an airport, you can still apply for a green card so long as you have been admitted or paroled into the U.S. by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. In order to apply for your green card under the CAA, it is important to have indisputable proof of your Cuban nationality.
Spouse and children of Cuban nationals (who are not yet U.S. citizens) may also apply for residency under the CAA regardless of their country of citizenship or place of birth. They must reside with the Cuban national, maintain the qualifying relationship with the Cuban national, and be otherwise admissible and eligible for an immigrant visa.
One benefit of residency through the CAA is that the date of residency is "rolled back" 30 months prior to the application date or the last arrival into the U.S., whichever is later. This means that the lawful permanent resident who adjusted pursuant to the CAA will become eligible to apply for citizenship before most other LPRs.
Attorney Andrea Montavon-McKillip can help walk you through this process. Contact Peregrine Law, P.A. today to learn more about your possible eligibility for obtaining a green card under the CAA.
Aggressive & Effective Advocacy in Broward County, FL
Obtaining your green card is the first step in pursuing U.S. citizenship through naturalization. The immigration attorney at Peregrine Law, P.A. can help you achieve this important milestone and assist you in navigating the maze that is the U.S. immigration system. For the strong and committed representation you need in Broward County, Florida, contact Andrea Montavon-McKillip - a board-certified immigration attorney with more than a decade of experience in the field. She is more than qualified to handle your case and help you pursue legal permanent residency in the United States. Call Peregrine Law, P.A. today to learn more.