The permanent resident card also known as the green card is a very important document. It not only serves as proof of your immigration status, but it also works as a work authorization document, travel document, and identification document, among other things.

Applying for a green card is a long and complex process, consisting of several forms, applications, and multiple federal agencies. In addition to this, you must make sure that you apply through the proper avenue and submit the forms applicable to your situation. Failure to correctly and completely fill out the forms, submit the necessary documentation, or comply with various rules may result in the delay or denial of your application.

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To help you in this process we have compiled 5 key considerations that you must keep in mind before applying for a green card.

#1. Eligibility Categories: There are several avenues through which you can apply for a green card. Some of these include an employment-based category, while others include a family-based, investment-based, asylum-based, or special category. It’s important to accurately assess the facts in your situation because only then you can pursue the appropriate avenue for your green card application.

For example, if a job offer falls through, in some cases you may be able to self-petition on your behalf, without a need for an employment offer. Or, you may be better off applying through a different category avoiding visa availability and serious backlogs. Failure to assess your situation and select the most appropriate visa category may cause unnecessary delay or even worse denial of your application.

#2. Documentation and Evidence: Your application is only as good as the evidence supporting your claims and statements. A strong green card application is always supported by solid evidentiary documents. For example, if you are petitioning for a spouse, it’s important to include detailed documentation that proves the bona fides of your marriage.

Weak or insufficient documentation may fail to convince your case to the adjudicating officer. For instance, weak marriage documentation may fail to prove that the marriage is a bona fide one, costing you needless time and money. Similarly, failure to draft an accurate job description or job qualifications may be grounds for your petition rejection.

#3. Understand the Process: Immigration law is complex, as it consists of multiple forms, applications, a plethora of evidence, and a ton of other hoops to jump through. Knowing what forms to fill out, what address to mail them to, what fees to pay, and what documents to include will help you achieve favorable results. Starting the process without a good grasp of the entire process will end up complicating the application and causing you unnecessary time and money.

#4. Processing Time Frame: One of the most striking features of immigration law is that it may take months or even several years to get your green card. It’s important to be aware of the potential for any delays, so that you may plan ahead of time to avoid any complications. The processing time depends on several factors such as the USCIS case load, backlogs, resources, and visa availability, among other things.

For example, it’s important to note that it may take several years for a family-based petition (F2) to be adjudicated by USCIS. As the beneficiary awaits the approval of I-130, he or she should be aware that the process may take several years, and be prepared to apply for the visa from home country to avoid accruing unlawful presence. The point is, it pays to understand the process and acknowledge the fact that the process can take many years, helping you avoid unnecessary issues.

#5. Consult With an Immigration Attorney: A lot of green card applications or petitions are non-adversarial in nature, meaning that you are not required to argue in court against an opposing party. Most green card petitions require the submission of forms and evidence, you technically do not need to hire an attorney, and such application can be handled by yourself. However, immigration law is complex, and all applications must be completed with accuracy.

An immigration attorney can help you assess your situation, make appropriate recommendations, and direct you to the course of action that can yield the best results. Don’t bet your green card application on pure chance, contact Niroula Law today by calling our office at (405) 456-9250, or by filling out the Contact Us Form.