If you’re thinking about applying to get permanent residency in the United States, you may be wondering if you can get a Green Card on your own or if you need a lawyer.
Let’s look at the steps you need to take to get a Green Card and explore your options.
How to Get a Green Card
Whether or not you have a lawyer, you will go through the same process to get a Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card.
#1) Meet eligibility. First, you must meet eligibility requirements to be able to apply for a Green Card. There are a variety of categories for eligibility. Consider if your situation matches any of the Green Card eligibility requirements in categories related to:
- Special immigrant
- Refugee or asylee status
- Human trafficking and crime victims
- Victims of abuse
- Other categories and special programs (such as the Immigrant Visa Lottery Program, Cuban Adjustment Act, Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness, etc.)
#2) Complete application paperwork. If you meet the requirements and are eligible, fill out the proper paperwork. The process typically includes filling Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and additional documents related to your specific eligibility category. You may also need to pay a filing fee. You can only file your paperwork through the mail, and you must determine the appropriate filing address to send your application.
#3) Wait for your application to be reviewed. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review your application and determine if you are approved.
#4) Have an interview. If approved, you will be invited for an interview with USCIS. The length of your interview and the number of questions asked will depend on your eligibility category.
#5) Receive your Green Card. If approved, you will receive your Green Card, which grants you permanent residency in the United States for up to ten years.
How to Renew or Replace a Green Card
A Green Card is valid for ten years. When your Green Card is due to expire in the next six months, it is time to start the process to renew it.
Also, if you lose or misplace your Green Card, you will need to take the appropriate steps to replace it. Both situations require you to go through a process similar to the initial application process.
#1) Complete application paperwork. If you have already gone through the process to get your Green Card but lost it or need to renew it, submit Form I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. Depending on your situation, you may be required to submit additional supporting documents as well as a filing fee. You can file the paperwork by mail or online.
#2) Have an interview if requested. In some cases, the USCIS may request an interview before your application is approved.
#3) Receive your new Green Card by mail. If approved, your new Green Card will be delivered to you by mail.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Get a Green Card?
In short, no, you do not need a lawyer to get a Green Card. You are not required to have an attorney, and the process is designed so people can manage it on their own.
But while the help of a lawyer isn’t required to get a Green Card, it doesn’t mean an attorney isn’t needed.
The process to get a Green Card may seem simple and straightforward on the surface, but there are many complicated rules and procedures. An immigration attorney can make the process to get your Green Card run smoother and increase your chances of getting approval.
An immigration attorney can help you:
- Identify and collect all documentation needed to apply based on your eligibility category
- Properly fill out paperwork
- Avoid missing important deadlines
- Prepare for your interview
- Avoid scams designed to mislead people going through the Green Card process
- Pay attention to changing laws and regulations, so you have the most current and up-to-date information about immigration laws
- Appeal the decision if your Green Card application is denied
If you want to get a Green Card, you don’t need an attorney, but good legal representation can increase your chances of securing the immigration status you seek.
Find a Lawyer to Help You Get a Green Card
If you’re getting ready to go through the process to get a Green Card, make sure you have the support you need. Talk to an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and increase your chances of successfully obtaining permanent residency in the United States.
TJ Grimaldi is here to help.
TJ works one-on-one with clients to ensure they understand and feel comfortable with every step of the immigration process. He also charges a flat fee for immigration cases so clients know exactly what to expect on their way to getting their Green Card.
See how TJ can help. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 now.