How long do I have to live in the USA to get a Green Card?
Obtaining a Green Card, also known as a permanent residence card, is the dream of many foreigners who want to settle in the United States. But, what is the minimum residence time to be eligible? We tell you.
Whether for job opportunities, education, or simply a change in lifestyle, moving to the United States is a real goal for people around the world, making it a country that attracts millions of immigrants each year.
In this context, for those who want to settle permanently in the United States, obtaining the Green Card is a crucial objective. In this article, we will analyze in detail the process of obtaining the Green Card and the question that many ask themselves: how long do I have to live in the United States to obtain this document that allows permanent residence?
First the most important thing: What is the Green Card?
Before delving into the terms and requirements, it is essential to understand what exactly the Green Card is. The Green Card, also known as a permanent resident card, is a document issued by the United States government that grants permanent resident status to foreigners.
With a Green Card, holders have the right to legally live and work in the United States indefinitely. It also offers various benefits, such as the possibility of accessing social security programs, obtaining professional licenses, starting your own business, and sponsoring family members to obtain permanent residence as well.
Additionally, after five years of holding the Green Card, holders can apply for US citizenship, giving them even more rights and opportunities.
Different ways to obtain the Green Card
There are several ways to obtain a Green Card in the United States, and the time required to obtain it can vary significantly depending on the type of visa or program to which you apply. Some of the most common ways are:
a) Immediate relatives of US citizens:
Spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of US citizens can obtain a Green Card through this category, although processing time may depend on the applicant’s country of origin and marital status. The process of obtaining the Green Card through the family can be faster than other routes, especially if you are the spouse or minor child of a US citizen.
b) Relatives of permanent residents:
Spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents may also apply for the Green Card, although a longer waiting period may exist in this category due to statutory visa quotas. Due to the limited number of visas available each year, there can be considerable delays in obtaining permanent residence through this route.
Those who have special skills, work experience, or sponsorship from a US employer can opt for the Green Card through employment. Employment categories are organized into different preferences (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, etc.), and processing time may vary based on job demand and type of employment. Highly skilled professionals or those with extraordinary talents may have a faster process than those with less specialized skills.
Foreign investors who invest a significant amount of capital in a US company may qualify for the Green Card through programs such as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. The EB-5 allows investors and their families to obtain permanent residence if they invest a specified amount of money and create employment in the United States.
e) Asylum and refuge:
People who have been granted asylum or refuge can also apply for the Green Card after meeting certain requirements and deadlines. Asylum or refugee beneficiaries must wait a period of one year after receiving the status to apply for permanent residence.
Process of obtaining the Green Card
The process to obtain the Green Card generally begins with the presentation of a specific petition according to the category to which it applies. This initial step can take months or even years, depending on the path chosen and the volume of requests.
For family pathways, the process generally involves the US citizen or permanent resident filing a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the petition is approved and the beneficiary is in the United States, they can file Form I-485 to adjust their status to permanent resident.
For employment-based pathways, the US employer must obtain a labor certification approved by the US Department of Labor (DOL) before filing the petition with USCIS.
Once approved, the applicant must file Form I-485 if they are in the United States or follow the instructions to apply for the immigrant visa from abroad.
Residence time to obtain the Green Card
The length of residence time required to obtain a Green Card in the United States varies by immigration category. However, in most cases, at least five years of legal residence in the country is required.
It is important to note that these deadlines may be affected by changes in immigration law and other external factors. If you wish to obtain a Green Card, we recommend consulting with an immigration attorney or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
The term to obtain the Green Card
The time required to obtain a Green Card can vary significantly and depends on several factors, including the visa category, the volume of pending applications, and the nationality of the applicant.
On average, the process of obtaining the Green Card can take between 2 to 3 years for those who are eligible through a family or employment petition. However, it is important to keep in mind that these deadlines may vary and are subject to changes in immigration policies.
It is recommended that applicants be prepared to face possible delays and longer processing times, especially if visa quotas have been reached or if there are changes in immigration policies.
Maintaining permanent resident status
Once the Green Card is obtained, it is important to maintain the status of permanent resident by fulfilling certain obligations. Among them is the need to live continuously in the United States. Spending extended periods outside the country without special authorization can lead to the loss of the Green Card and permanent residence.
To keep the Green Card, holders must meet continuous residency requirements, which generally means they must live in the United States for at least 6 months of the year. In addition, Green Card holders must not commit serious crimes or violate immigration laws, as this could lead to the revocation of their permanent resident status.
In short, obtaining a Green Card is an important goal for those who want to settle permanently in the United States. Although the process can take time and effort, the opportunities and benefits that permanent residency provides make it well worth the effort.
If you are considering immigrating to the United States, it is crucial that you research the different pathways available and consult with an immigration attorney to better understand your options and increase your chances of success in the process. Remember that each case is unique, and it is essential to comply with all the requirements and deadlines established by the immigration authorities.
A Green Card can open up a world of opportunities for you and your family, giving you the chance to build a prosperous future in this diverse country full of opportunities.