Choosing to live in America may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Choosing the immigration lawyers at Schierer & Ritchie can help you realize your dreams.
Our Peoria-based green card attorneys will support you throughout the immigration process. With a proven track record of helping clients apply for and obtain green cards, Schierer & Ritchie have helped hundreds of satisfied clients live and work permanently in the United States.
Ways to Get a Green Card
There are three different paths an immigrant can take to obtain a green card. They are:
- Sponsorship for an immigrant visa by a family member or employer
- Adjustment of asylum or refugee status to permanent residency
- Participation in the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program
We recognize that your situation is unique to you. At Schierer & Ritchie, we can advise you on your best options for obtaining a green card, and assist you every step of the way in the application process.
One common path to permanent residency is through an immigrant visa, sponsored either by a family member or by an employer. In family-based immigration, a United States citizen or permanent resident may apply to bring certain family members into the U.S. American immigration law allows citizens to sponsor spouses, children, stepchildren, parents, and siblings. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders), on the other hand, may only sponsor their spouses and children. The law also makes allowances for adoptive families and stepfamilies.
Employers may also sponsor foreign nationals to live and work in the United States. Employment immigration law is both broad and complex. A few of the many ways that an individual might qualify for an employment visa are:
- Having a rare skill or an advanced degree in a specific profession
- Being a physician who will practice in an underserved area
- Being an investor who will invest at least $500,000-$1,000,000 in an American company
This is far from an exhaustive list. There are many more types of employment visas that allow the immigrant to apply for a green card. If you are interested in obtaining an employment visa, your best bet is to work with an experienced immigration attorney.
Asylees and Refugees
The Department of Homeland Security defines a refugee as “a person outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” A refugee requests protection from the United States before entering the country. Conversely, an asylee is someone who meets the definition of a refugee, but is already present in the United States.
Both are paths to permanent residency. One year following a refugee’s admittance into the United States or an asylee’s grant of asylum, either person may apply for a green card.
Green Card Lottery
The third path to a green card is through the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, also known as the green card lottery. Designed to promote immigration from countries that do not typically send many people to the United States, the program randomly issues 50,000 visas a year to under-represented nationalities.
Only countries that have not had more than 50,000 natives migrate to the U.S. in the last five years are eligible. In addition to being a national of a qualifying country, applicants must clear a security screening and meet certain eligibility requirements, including having a high school education and at least two years of work experience.
If your native country is not eligible for the DV lottery, there are other methods of qualifying. If, for example, your spouse was born in a qualifying country, you and your spouse may both claim your spouse’s country of birth, provided that you enter the United States together.
Green Card Rights and Responsibilities
Unlike citizenship, permanent residency is a privilege, not a right. This means that a green card can be revoked if you break the law.
- You must obey local, state, and federal law and pay local, state, and federal taxes.
- You must pay child support, if you are obligated to.
- You must not vote in elections, claim to be a citizen, or lie to get immigration benefits for yourself or someone else.
- You must not abuse alcohol or use illegal drugs, and you must not drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
International travel could also put your green card at risk. If you plan to leave the United States for a year or more, you must apply in advance for a re-entry permit. Without this permit, the U.S. may assume you have abandoned your permanent resident status.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must be kept up-to-date on your home address at all times. If you move, you are required to notify USCIS within ten days. A failure to do so could cause your green card to be revoked.
Although permanent residency never expires, your green card—the proof of your lawful resident status—must be renewed every ten years. The general rule of thumb is to apply for a renewal six months prior to your green card’s expiration date.
Need an Immigration Lawyer?
No two immigration cases are exactly alike. At Schierer & Ritchie, our immigration lawyers work with you and your family or employer to determine the best course of action for you.
With decades of experience, we can identify potential issues before they arise, so your immigration case can move forward as quickly and smoothly as possible. If you are ready to apply for permanent residency in the United States, we are ready to help.
At Schierer & Ritchie, we take pride in our professional and compassionate approach to immigration law. We know how important it is for individuals and families to immigrate into the United States, and we treat each case with the respect it deserves.
Our clients appreciate our integrity, honesty, and attention to detail. Above all, though, our clients appreciate our results. For the best chance at a positive outcome, contact the law offices of Schierer & Ritchie today.