Chicago Green Card Attorney
Comprehensive Green Card Assistance in Cook County
If you hope to eventually become a permanent United States citizen, you will first need to procure a green card. This visa confers lawful permanent residency and allows you to live and work almost anywhere in the country. Though there are several methods for obtaining a green card, doing so can often be challenging.
Our Chicago green card lawyer at Aparicio Immigration Law has a track record that speaks for itself. We have successfully secured visas for immigrants in a variety of scenarios and are committed to helping you explore all of your options when you wish to become a lawful permanent resident. Our attorney is an immigrant himself and has a complete understanding of how to effectively navigate the U.S. immigration system. We can leverage our knowledge and resources to benefit your case and provide the direct and personal attention you deserve.
What Is A Green Card?
A "Green Card" is a common term for the United States Permanent Resident Card, which is issued to immigrants as evidence of their lawful permanent resident status in the United States. Lawful permanent residents, often referred to as "green card holders," are individuals who are not U.S. citizens but have been granted the legal right to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.
Here are some key points about Green Cards:
- Legal Permanent Residency: A Green Card signifies that the holder has been granted lawful permanent residency (LPR) status in the United States. This status allows them to live and work in the country indefinitely.
- Rights and Benefits: Green card holders have various rights and benefits, including the ability to work for any employer, travel in and out of the United States, access certain government benefits, and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process.
- Types of Green Cards: There are several categories under which individuals can obtain Green Cards, including family-sponsored Green Cards, employment-based Green Cards, refugee or asylee status, and certain special immigrant categories.
- Conditional Green Cards: In some cases, Green Cards may be issued on a conditional basis, typically valid for two years. Conditional Green Card holders must later apply to remove the conditions and obtain a permanent Green Card.
- Renewal: Green Cards have an expiration date, and they must be renewed, typically every 10 years. It's important to maintain your Green Card's validity to avoid issues with legal status.
- Path to Citizenship: After holding a Green Card for a specified period, usually five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen), a permanent resident can apply for U.S. citizenship through a process called naturalization, if they meet certain eligibility criteria.
- Revocation: Green Cards can be revoked or taken away if the holder violates U.S. immigration laws or commits certain crimes.
- Travel: Green card holders are free to travel to and from the United States, but they should be mindful of maintaining their residency status, as extended periods of absence from the U.S. can raise questions about residency and potential abandonment of LPR status.
Obtaining a Green Card is often a significant step toward building a life in the United States for foreign nationals who wish to live and work there permanently.
The process for obtaining a Green Card can vary depending on the specific category and eligibility criteria, and it often involves a thorough background check and application process. Many individuals seek the assistance of immigration attorneys to navigate the complex Green Card application process.
There are several ways an immigrant can potentially obtain a green card. Most lawful permanent residents procure their visas through family-based immigration or employment-based immigration, but other immigration pathways are sometimes available. The options available to you will depend on your unique circumstances.
Our Chicago green card attorney can assist you with obtaining a visa through:
- Family-Based Immigration. Many immigrants become lawful permanent residents through family petitions. Current U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can sponsor qualifying relatives for green cards. U.S. citizens benefit from an expedited process that enables them to more efficiently sponsor “immediate relatives,” including parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21. Other types of relatives of U.S. citizens – and qualifying relatives of lawful permanent residents – will need to wait for their priority dates to become current before they can obtain their green cards. Wait times can vary with case backlog, a sponsored relative’s country of origin, and a sponsored family member’s relationship to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Our firm can help you navigate the sponsorship process as quickly as possible and help you understand what kind of wait you should expect.
- The Diversity Visa Lottery. The Diversity Visa program allocates green cards to 50,000 immigrants and their families each year. The lottery is free to enter, but you must meet two eligibility requirements in order to qualify. First, you must be from a country that does not generally send many immigrants to the United States. Second, you must either have at least a high school degree or at least two years of relevant work experience in a qualifying profession. We can determine if you are eligible for the lottery and help you enter in the appropriate window.
- Asylum and Refugee Status. Immigrants that have faced persecution or fear future persecution in their home countries on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership in a particular social group can potentially qualify for asylum or refugee status. Asylees and refugees qualify for green cards after one year of receiving their status. If you have faced past persecution or fear future persecution, we can help you affirmatively or defensively seek asylum or refugee status. If you are already an asylee or refugee, we can guide you through the process of obtaining your green card.
- U Visas. If you are a victim of a serious crime and can meaningfully assist law enforcement agencies with an investigation, you may be eligible for the U visa, which allows you to remain in the United States. U visas are typically valid for four years, and beneficiaries are eligible for green cards after three years of continuous presence. Our team can assist current U visa beneficiaries with securing their green cards.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Victims of extreme cruelty at the hands of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or adult child can sometimes be eligible to self-petition for immigration benefits. This means you may be able to obtain a family-based green card even if your abusive spouse, parent, or adult child refuses to file a petition on your behalf. We can help you navigate these difficult situations.
Consular Processing and Adjustments of Status
The first step to procuring a green card is confirming you are eligible for one. For example, a family petition confirms that an applicant is a qualifying relative of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and is therefore eligible for a green card. Once eligibility has been established, you must wait for a visa to become available. In some cases, there will be no additional wait, and a visa will be immediately available.
What comes next depends on whether you are currently located in the United States. After a visa becomes available to you, you will need to either adjust your immigration status or go through consular processing.
If you are currently in the United States on another visa, you can remain in the country and file to adjust your status. You will generally be permitted to remain in the U.S. while your adjustment of status request is processed, even if your current visa is set to expire in the interim.
If you are living abroad, you will need to complete consular processing. This requires meeting with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer at your home country’s U.S. embassy or consular office. You will also typically need to submit to a medical exam. If the USCIS officer is satisfied with your application, you will be issued a green card and can travel to the United States.
Removing Conditions on a Marriage-Based Green Card
Most green cards are nonconditional and will be valid for ten years. In most cases, you will be able to efficiently renew your visa.
If you obtained your green card through a marriage that is less than two years old, however, you will receive a “conditional” green card. This visa expires after only two years and must be carefully renewed. To remove conditions, you and your spouse will jointly submit a new petition to USCIS in the 90-day window before the green card expires. You may need to participate in another interview with a USCIS officer to confirm the authenticity of your marriage. Once conditions are successfully removed, you will receive a new green card that lasts for ten years.
No matter your circumstances, our Chicago green card lawyer at Aparicio Immigration Law is ready to provide the capable guidance you need. Our attorney has firsthand knowledge of the immigration process and is compassionate to the challenges immigrants regularly face. If you are looking to become a lawful permanent resident, we can review your situation and identify strategies that can help you obtain a green card.
We Can Relate to Your ExperienceHaving gone through the immigration process himself, Attorney Aparicio has first-hand experience to help understand your situation.
We Have a Record that Speaks for ItselfWith many victorious cases taken to court and hundreds of happy reviews from clients, our team proudly works hard to earn its good reputation.
We are LocalOur office is located less than a mile from Chicago Immigration Court, allowing us to very conveniently help all clients throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Spanish Speaking Services AvailableWith a staff that speaks English and Spanish fluently, our team makes sure all communication with clients is always direct and always clear.
Take advantage of an initial consultation with our team.