If you visit the U.S. for pleasure or business, you may obtain one of several types of visas. These may allow you to stay for a limited time and only do certain things while you are here.

However, if you aspire to become a permanent U.S. resident and even a citizen of the U.S.A.; your goal is probably to obtain a “green card.”

Almost every year, the United States issues over one million green cards. Recent estimates show that over 14 million green card holders now live in the United States and have “lawful permanent resident status” due to their green card.

Additionally, over 10 million were eligible to become citizens. Having a green card provides you with distinct advantages, one of which is that it allows you (as the green card holder) to live and work in the United States permanently. Also, after a specific number of years, you may apply to become a U.S. citizen.

For example, if you are married to a U.S. citizen, you can apply for U.S. citizenship after three years, and after five years if you are not.

As a green card holder, you are a permanent resident, no matter what changes may be made to U.S. immigration laws in the future. “Green cards” are not simply a temporary “fix” to visit the U.S. or work here. It also cannot be revoked under without mitigating circumstances.

However, if you commit a crime or violate a law, you can lose your rights under the green card status and then be deported.

By holding a green card, you are legally protected by all the laws of the United States and your state of residence. You will receive the same protections that apply to all U.S. citizens under the law.

A significant advantage is that you can sponsor other family members and loved ones and help them obtain their green cards. Usually, eligible family members include spouses, children, parents, siblings, their children, and some relatives.

These are only a few examples of the benefits afforded you by holding a green card in the United States, but in essence, you are treated and have many of the rights of an actual U.S. citizen.
Each case is unique, however, and if you want information or help in obtaining a green card, you should consult with a knowledgeable, professional Fresno family lawyer. They will analyze your request and set you on the right path toward green card status.

What Are My First Steps in Obtaining a Green Card in California?

Currently, there are over three million foreigners with green cards in California. These residents are also known as legal permanent residents (LPRs).

Commonly, the main path that non-citizens take to gain LPR status is through either:

>>Employment sponsorship – This consists of LPR by receiving a job offer, LPR by self-petition, LPR by investment, and LPR due to the “specialized category of jobs.

Essentially and primarily due to your work status and type of job, you or your employer will work with a qualified Fresno immigration law firm to obtain your green card. You might have special skills, invest in a business in the U.S., etc.

>>Family or relative sponsorship – U.S. citizens or U.S. green card holders usually sponsor you as a foreign family member to enter the country on a green card

There are three common types of family sponsorships, they are:

  • U.S. citizen and immediate relative as a sponsor. This could include your spouse, unmarried children under 21, or parents.
  • U.S. citizen family members in a preference category – Including siblings, unmarried children over 21, and married children no matter the age.
  • Green card-holder immediate relative – Including spouses and unmarried children under 21 of the petitioning legal permanent resident.

You, of course, are aware that obtaining your green card in any of these ways is always a challenging legal process. You should never attempt it alone, and getting the help, guidance, and legal advice of a Fresno immigration lawyer is mandatory.

Is There a Specific “Process” For Applying For My Green Card?

Yes, there most definitely is, and by far, the wisest move is not to take on this daunting task alone. Obtaining the professional help of a Fresno immigration lawyer will be invaluable and speed up the process; fill out all the myriad forms correctly and help to ensure you have the best chance possible to obtain your green card.

Usually, the first step is for you to get your immigrant visa. Secondly, with the help of your lawyer, you correctly apply for a green card using the proper forms. Also, applying in the U.S. will commonly simplify the process.

If you are overseas, applying for your green card is known as “consular processing.” If you are in the U.S., applying is referred to as an “adjustment of status.” Being here and having a skilled immigration law team working on your behalf will almost always make this process faster, without as many errors or possibly denials.

Can I Obtain My Green Card in California With a Criminal Record?

The simple legal answer is that “it depends!” Also, your local immigration lawyer must be informed of this situation and will always know the best way to approach it if possible.

If you are a non-citizen and have been convicted of a minor offense, you should still be eligible for LPR status. For example, some minor offenses might include speeding tickets or trespassing.

However, as a foreigner, you most likely will be disqualified from LPR status or be deported if you are convicted of a serious offense.

Some examples of these types of offenses are:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude.
  • Most any type of drug crime.
  • California gun crimes.
  • Domestic battery crimes.

The answer to this question is unique and depends on all the details involved. If you are in this situation, then discuss it thoroughly with your Fresno immigration lawyer, and they will advise you on the best legal path to follow.

I Want To Obtain My Green Card; How Should I Proceed?

First, always note that you should only try to attempt this legal process with the legal help of your immigration lawyer. If you or a loved one wants your green card, consult a professional, knowledgeable, and empathetic Fresno immigration lawyer and obtain a case evaluation.

After discussing all the pertinent details with you, and your family, your lawyer will investigate your legal options and stand with you throughout the immigration process from start to finish. Having a green card can enormously benefit you and your family. So, help to ensure your success and always obtain the professional help you must have.