The grass is always greener on the other side, and for many individuals born outside of the United States, the other side is gaining permanent resident status in the U.S., and being able to legally live and work toward their dreams in America. The ticket to eventual citizenship is a green card. Unfortunately, this goal is not simple to obtain, but there are advantages in knowing what to expect.
There are a number of ways that an individual may qualify for a green card. Some of the most common avenues are:
- Through immediate family members who are already legal permanent residents or citizens of the U.S.
- Sponsorship from an employer
- Business entrepreneurs with at least $500,000 to invest in U.S. businesses
- Asylum or refuges who are escaping persecution
The rules and procedures for obtaining a green card are complex. Not only are the immigration laws difficult to understand, they include many exceptions, and are frequently inconsistent. There is a great deal of paperwork to fill out and prepare during the application process. The instructions must be strictly followed when completing the forms, and there are specific fees required when the application is submitted. If there are errors in the paperwork, immigration authorities may return the application for correction, but this often includes delays, and in some cases, denials if the application is not returned in a timely manner. To be successful, applicants must meet all deadlines, supply all required documentation, and attend an interview for their green card.
Individuals that may be qualified in other areas to obtain a green card may be denied by the immigration authorities. There is a lengthy list of grounds of inadmissibility that cause applications to be denied. The most common grounds of inadmissibility include:
- Immigration Violations
Any person who has committed fraud to get a visa, entered illegally, or helped smuggle aliens across the border will have their application denied. This may be a permanent condition.
- Drug Use or Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking, and drug use is cause for an application to be denied. A conviction is not always required, as admission of drug abuse can be enough for rejection.
- Economic Grounds
Family or employment sponsors must file an Affidavit of Support guaranteeing to financially support the immigrant for a period of years. The level of income and assets required by the Petitioner are updated annually, but must be enough to support the family and the immigrant at 125% above the poverty line.