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Becoming a Legal Permanent Resident

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Today we want to discuss the basics of becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Lawful permanent residents are also known as green card holders or LPRs. Though they aren’t U.S. citizens, they are legally able to live permanently in the U.S. and can accept offers of employment without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges or universities, and join the Armed Forces. Lawful permanent residents are also able to apply for citizenship after a few years or, in some cases, immediately if they meet certain eligibility and admissibility requirements.


The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides several broad classes of admission for foreign nationals to become legal permanent residents. They include:


  • Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens – this is the largest category of LPRs consisting of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens including spouses, children, parents and of citizens over the age of 21. This class of LPR is not limited in number and usually makes up more than 40% of new LPRs annually.


  • Family-sponsored preferences – this group includes those family members not included in the immediate relative class. They include unmarried sons/ daughters of U.S. citizens and their children, spouses and children of alien residents, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.


  • Employment-based preferences – this class includes those seeking to provide needed skills in the U.S. workforce or wanting to invest in new U.S. jobs. They include those with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors or researchers, multinational executives, professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability, skilled workers, investors, and spouses.


  • Refugees and Asylees – the U.S. provides refuge to people who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution if they remain in their home country. There are two programs that provide such refuge: a refugee program for persons outside of the U.S. and their immediate relatives, and an asylum program for persons in the U.S. and their immediate relatives.

  • Diversity – those who seek to immigrate to the U.S. from countries with relatively low levels of immigration may be eligible for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.


  • Other – this category is generally limited to people admitted under special legislation including but not limited to parolees, battered spouses, and children natives of certain adversely affected foreign states.


If you are looking into applying for lawful permanent resident status to receive your green card through family relations, these are the steps you should follow:


  1. Determine whether you are eligible. If you belong to one of the groups mentioned above, you might be eligible. You might also be eligible if you were a victim of human trafficking, crime, or abuse. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact us.

  2. File the necessary forms with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with all supporting documents and fees. If you are eligible, the first step is to file form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to establish a relationship between you and the petitioner. The petitioner is the family member through whom you are acquiring LPR status and you are the beneficiary. If you and the petitioner are in the U.S., you should file form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) together with form I-130 to receive your green card. If you are abroad and the petitioner is in the U.S., your green card application will be processed via consular processing and forms I-130 and I-485 should be filed separately.

  3. Prepare for your biometric services appointment. Once the USCIS reviews your application and sends you a notice of action, you will then receive a letter with the date, time and place of your biometrics appointment. At this appointment, you will have your fingerprints recorded and pictures taken so the FBI can run your criminal background check. Follow the instructions in the letter. If you need to, you can contact the USCIS and reschedule the appointment.

  4. Prepare for your interview. Unless waived, the final step before the USCIS approves your LPR application is the interview with an immigration officer. Both the petitioner and the beneficiary must attend the interview. In many cases, it is a good idea to have your attorney attend the interview as well. The officer will review all forms received together with accompanying documents and make sure the information received by the USCIS is correct and current. The officer will ask questions regarding your relationship, personal information and work situation. If you requested and received a work or travel permit, you will have to surrender those to the officer at the interview. If you need to, you can contact the USCIS and reschedule your interview.

  5. Congrats! You are now a LPR. Once your application is approved, you will receive your green card in the mail a few weeks after the interview. If you are granted permanent status, your green card will be valid for 10 years. If you have been granted conditional status, your green card will be valid for two years. After you remove the conditions, you will receive the 10-year green card. Before your 10-year green card expires, you must renew it or apply for citizenship.

The entire green card process can take anywhere from a couple of months to over a year. Note that green card applications, as well as all other forms of adjustment of status, are taking longer than usual under the current administration. But the important thing to keep in mind is that regardless of how long it takes for your green card application to be approved, once it is received by the USCIS, you are on pending status which means your presence in the U.S. is considered lawful.


If you would like to find out whether you are eligible to apply for LPR status, remove the conditions of your green card or would like us simply to review your filled out forms, we can help you with all your family-based immigration needs. Call us today at (385) 334-4030 or send a text message via WhatsApp to (801) 608-4706 for more information or schedule a free consultation at https://www.skvlegal.com/contact