Green Card and U.S. Citizenship

Naturalization is the process of acquiring American citizenship. Applicants for naturalization must be at least 18 years old and must establish that they qualify to become U.S. citizens based on residence, physical presence, good moral character, knowledge of the English language, U.S. history, and loyalty to the United States.

A U.S. citizen is not the same as a Green Card holder. A Green Card holder, or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), can enjoy all the rights of a U.S. citizen to live and work in the United States and pay state and federal taxes. A Lawful Permanent Resident can freely travel in and out of the United States, though an extended absence of one year or more may be cause for grounds to revoke the Green Card, or cause a delay in applying for naturalization unless the proper paperwork has been filed prior to the trip. A successful naturalization applicant will have continuously resided in the U.S. for 5 years and have been physically present for a cumulative 3 years. If the Green Card holder is married to a U.S. citizen he or she may apply for naturalization 3 years after continuously residing in the U.S. and being physically present for half the time, provided the applicant is still living with the U.S. citizen spouse at the time of filing the application. An applicant must reside within the state in which the application is filed for at least three months.

There are several paths to obtaining a Green Card as outlined below.

Employment-Based Green Cards

This is when an American employer in the United States offers an alien worker employment, and then sponsors them for a Green Card. Preference is given to applicants with exceptional abilities, education, and training. An applicant must have an offer of employment first in order to apply.

Click on Employment-Based Green Cards on the left for more information.

Investment-Based Green Cards

If a foreign investor will get a Green Card if they invest $500,000 to $1,000,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. and that will stimulate the U.S. economy. The investment must produce at least ten permanent full time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the investor's entry to the United States.

Click on Investment-Based Green Card on the left for more information.

Family-Based Green Card

A U.S. Citizen or Green Card holder can petition for a family member to come to the U.S. and get a Green Card. A U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident can petition for their husband, wife, and unmarried children. If the petitioner is a U.S. citizen of at least 21 years of age, they can also file for their siblings or parents. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot be petitioned.

Click on Family-Based Green Card on the left for more information.


A refugee is a person who is brought to the U.S. for protection from harm in their home country. Asylum may be granted to people who are already in the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership to a particular social group, or political opinion. If an applicant is granted asylum, he or she will be able to live and work in the U.S. and will be able to apply for permanent resident status one year after being granted asylum.

Click on Asylum/Refugee on the left for more information.

U Visas and T Visas:

The "U" Nonimmigrant visa is for victims who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens, robbery, and other crimes. To qualify for the U visa, a person must have been a victim of a crime and be willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation of the criminal activity.

Consular Processing

If a person is required to attend an interview with the Department of State, they may receive the benefit via Consular Processing. Individuals required to do this process may also need to file any number of Waivers including I-601, I-601A and I-212 waivers. These issues may be addressed with the assistance of our firm.

Deferred Action

In order to qualify for DACA, individuals must have come to the United States before turning 16. These individuals must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. Additionally, these individuals must have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. A background test must also be passed. There are additional qualifications for DACA that can be discussed with an immigration attorney.

The T visa was implemented when Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 in order to provide victims who have severely suffered the ability to stay in the U.S. and receive federal support and protection from crimes, such as crimes against women. The law also allowed for law enforcement agencies more comprehensive abilities to prosecute and convict traffickers.

Violence Against Women's Act (VAWA)

Under VAWA, immigrant victims of domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse may "self-petition" for lawful permanent resident status without the cooperation of an abusive spouse, parent, or adult child. It allows the victim to confidentially file the self-petition and attain lawful permanent resident status without separating from the abuser, thereby allowing the victim to leave the abuser after lawful permanent resident status has been obtained.

An approved VAWA self-petition provides the applicant with work authorization, deferred action, and an approved immigrant petition which allows her to apply for lawful permanent residency. When the individual applies for lawful permanent resident status, she is subject to the family preference system and any backlogs that may exist. Thus, spouses and children of U.S. citizens may apply immediately and receive a green card as an immediate relative. By contrast, spouses and children of lawful permanent resident abusers are placed into the family preference system along with all other petitions for spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and are subject to backlogs. There is no limit to the number of VAWA self-petitions that may be filed in any given year.

Asylum /CAT/ Withholding/ Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

A benefit given to those individuals who feared to return to their home countries for being victims of persecution due to rape, race, religion, political affiliation and more.

Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA)

Certain forms of immigration benefits and relief from deportation to certain Nicaraguans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, nationals of former Soviet bloc countries and their dependents who had arrived as asylees.You must not have been convicted of an aggravated felony to qualify for NACARA 203.

Advance Parole

It is not a re-entry permit; it is only issued to aliens without permanent residency. Advance Parole is permission for certain aliens, who do not have a valid immigrant visa, to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad.

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