Green Card & Residency Attorneys in Raleigh & Asheville North Carolina
Fay & Grafton offers skilled legal assistance to immediate or non-immediate family members or fiancés who are pursuing any family-based immigration goal, including a green card. Contact our attorneys to arrange your initial consultation.
Our Experienced Immigration Lawyers Will Help You Navigate The Process
If you are requesting an adjustment of status and seeking a relative to sponsor you for a green card, for residency in the U.S., Fay & Grafton can help. Our attorneys bring in-depth legal knowledge, a trial attorney background and attentive personal service to your side.
If you are related to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, have an employer who is willing to petition for you, or have a basis to petition for yourself, you may be able to obtain lawful permanent residence (a green card) in the United States. If you are currently present in the United States, you may be able to apply for your lawful permanent residence without leaving the country. This typically depends upon how you entered the United States or who is petitioning for you.
In some circumstances, you may need to leave the United States in order to obtain your residence. However, this should be done with great care since once you leave the United States, it may be difficult to return. If you are living abroad, you may be able to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident. If you are filing for your residency from outside of the United States, or will be leaving the United States to file for your residency, this is called “consular processing.” If you are applying for your residence from within the United States, it is called “adjustment of status.”
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Green Cards & Residency
Adjustment Of Status
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally permits the change of an individual’s immigration status while in the United States from non-immigrant or parolee (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) if the individual was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States, is the beneficiary of a visa petition filed by an immediate relative and is otherwise admissible to the United States. You may be able to apply for adjustment of status even if you were not inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States, or if you petitioner is someone other than an immediate relative, if a family member or employer filed a labor certification or visa petition for you before April 30, 2001 and you were present in the United States on December 21, 2000 (if that petition was filed after January 14, 1998).
What Are Grounds Of Inadmissibility?
You may not be able to adjust your status or consular process if you are inadmissible to the United States. The grounds of inadmissibility are in Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The most common grounds of inadmissibility are:
- Having been convicted of or having admitted to committing a crime involving moral turpitude or a drug-related offense
- Having made a material misrepresentation
- Having claimed to be a United States citizen
- Having helped someone enter the United States illegally
- Having been present in the United States unlawfully and then departing the United States.
This is a limited list of the most common grounds of inadmissibility and you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney before seeking adjustment of status or consular processing. In certain circumstances, a waiver may be available.
Can I Obtain A Green Card Through Family?
Many people become lawful permanent residents (get their green cards) through family members. You may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident if you are:
- An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen ( including spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old)
- A family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category ( including unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old)
- A family member of a lawful permanent resident ( including spouses and unmarried children of a lawful permanent resident)
- A member of a special category ( including, among others, the battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K (fiancé or spouse of U.S. citizen) non-immigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V non-immigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen).
In order to obtain lawful permanent residence through a family member, that family member (the petitioner) will need to file an I-130 petition for you. If you are eligible to apply for adjustment of status in the United States, your family member can file an I-130 petition at the same time that you file your application for adjustment of status. This is called a concurrent filing.
If you need to consular process, your relative will need to file the I-130 petition, which will then be forwarded to the National Visa Center and eventually the embassy or consulate where you will request your immigrant visa. Whether you are requesting adjustment of status in the United States or consular processing from another country, many documents must be presented to show that you are eligible for your lawful permanent residency.
Can I Obtain A Green Card Through Employment?
Every fiscal year approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment-based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants.
- EB-1 visas are reserved for aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers, and multinational managers and executives
- EB-2 visas are available for aliens of exceptional ability, professionals with advanced degrees, and physicians practicing in under-served areas
- EB-3 visas are for professional workers, skilled workers and unskilled workers
- EB-4 visas are Special Immigrant Visas for religious workers and other specific individuals
- EB-5 visas are for investors
If an employer wants to petition for you to become a lawful permanent resident, the employer will need to file an I-140 petition. Generally, a labor certification must be approved by the Department of Labor before the employer can file the I-140 petition. Once an I-140 petition is approved, it may be immediately available or there may be a wait, depending on the Visa Bulletin, which is published monthly.
It is important to remember that you can only adjust your status in the United States based on an approved I-140 petition if you are in current lawful immigration status, unless someone petitioned for you before April 30, 2001 and you were present in the United States on December 21, 2000 (if that petition was filed after January 14, 1998).
Can I Obtain A Green Card Through Refugee Status?
Under United States law, a refugee is someone who:
- Is located outside of the United States
- Is of special humanitarian concern to the United States
- Demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group
- Is not firmly resettled in another country
- Is admissible to the United States
A refugee does not include anyone who ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
If you were admitted as a refugee, you are required by law to apply for a green card (permanent residence) in the United States 1 year after being admitted as a refugee. You must apply for a green card one year after you are admitted to the United States as a refugee if you:
- Have been physically present in the United States for at least one year after being admitted as a refugee
- Have not had your refugee admission terminated
- Have not already acquired permanent resident (green card) status
Can I Obtain A Green Card Through Asylum?
Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. To apply for asylum, file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States. There is no fee to apply for asylum.
You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried.
How Do I Get Permission To Work in the United States?
You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum.
You may apply for employment authorization if:
- 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview) AND
- No decision has been made on your application
- You may apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum.
How Do I Get A Removal of Conditions On Permanent Residency?
Your permanent residence status is conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old on the day you were given permanent residence. You are given conditional resident status on the day you are lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa or adjustment of your status to permanent residence.
Your status is conditional, because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States.
In order to remain a permanent resident, a conditional permanent resident must file a petition to remove the condition during the 90 days before the card expires. The conditional card cannot be renewed. The conditions must be removed or you will lose your permanent resident status.
What Are The Criteria For Removal of Conditions On Permanent Residency?
Generally, you may apply to remove your conditions on permanent residence if you:
- Are still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after two years. You may include your children in your application if they received their conditional-resident status either at the same time or within 90 days as you did;
- Are a child and, for a valid reason, cannot be included in your parents’ application;
- Are a widow or widower who entered into your marriage in good faith;
- Entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment;
- Entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S.-citizen or permanent-resident spouse.
What Is Consular Processing?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) offers an individual two primary paths to permanent resident status (a green card). An individual who is the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and has an immigrant visa number immediately available may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. This pathway is referred to as “consular processing.”
Fay & Grafton has represented hundreds of residency cases in North Carolina
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