The process of getting a green card, or United States Permanent Residence Card, can seem a bit overwhelming at first. But if you're considering requesting permanent residence in the United States, it's best to start the process as soon as possible. The U.S. welcomes members of many other countries such as the U.K., Canada, Ireland and Australia, but entrance requirements can be strict and the application process can take quite a bit of time.
The United States limits the number of green cards which it will issue each year to 50,000. Those who have met all the requirements and submitted their application are placed into a green card lottery system. This is a pool of qualified applicants who are picked at random by a computer-generated program to ensure that all individuals are treated equally. This US green card lottery system is run by the U.S. Department of State which has a green card service web site.
At the Department of State site, you can electronically submit your green card application and also check the status later using the confirmation number you're given when your application is submitted. The government notifies winners by postal mail, so don't be tricked by emails which say that you have "won" the lottery. There has been a recent rash of green card emails which look official but are not connected to any government agency. These schemes will ask for money to submit or check the status of your application. Applying for a green card is free, although there will be fees to pay after your application has been approved.
On the other hand, there are some legitimate green card services which, for a fee, will handle all the paperwork necessary to get you submitted to the U.S. green card lottery system. For many people these services have proven to be invaluable because they ensured that all the paperwork was filled out properly, and that the application was submitted correctly. They often credit these green card service providers for their success in obtaining a U.S. green card.
In order to qualify for permanent residence, you'll need to meet the requirements set by the U.S. The most common reason for application is to join family members. If you are related to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you will likely qualify for a green card. Other family relationships are allowed, such an individual whose spouse is a permanent resident or the parent of a U.S. citizen.
Many people apply for green cards in order to work in the U.S. permanently. The standards for work eligibility are a bit strict since as they are intended to ensure that the job you'll be holding does not deny employment to a qualified U.S. citizen. Employers may submit an application to hire individuals from other countries. Once your employer has obtained a "labor certification", he or she can file "Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker". If you submit for permanent residence on you own behalf, referred to as "self-petition", you'll need to prove that you qualify under the category of "Aliens of Extraordinary Ability", which encourages immigration of individuals who excel in the arts, science, athletics or education.
Getting a green card to work or live in the United States can take time and preparation, but if you educate yourself as to all the requirements, you'll speed up the process and eventually realize your dream. For those who don't have the time to do the application, there are services that can help you through the entire process.
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