How to Get a Green Card in NYC
Peri B. Edelman | February 24, 2021
As an Immigration Attorney practicing immigration law in NYC, I have helped thousands of immigrants obtain their green cards. The green card process in NYC (also known as Adjustment of Status) is lengthy and tedious, and many immigrants decide not to apply because of how cumbersome obtaining a green card can be. However, my expertise as a green card lawyer, my guidance, and my intimate understanding of the immigration process in NYC have delivered green cards for many of my clients, and I make the green card process straightforward and expedient.
This guide will help you understand the process of obtaining a green card through the New York City immigration system – what you need to know, where you need to go, and what documents are needed to start living life in the United States as a permanent resident.
What is a Green Card?
The official name of a green card is a Permanent Resident Card. Having this designation allows you to live and work permanently in the United States. Most green cards are valid for 10 years.
A green card that has been granted on conditional permanent resident status is valid for 2 years and must be renewed through a process called Removal of Conditional Residence prior to the 2 year anniversary to obtain a permanent green card. When the card is about to expire, you can apply to renew your green card status.
When you are living in the United States and apply for a green card, this is called an adjustment of status. If you apply for a green card when you are outside of the U.S., the process is known as consular processing.
Why is having a green card helpful?
Having a green card helps in many ways. With a green card you:
- Have the right to live permanently in the United States.
- Have the right to work in the United States. Jobs that are not open to non-permanent residents will be available to you, like certain government jobs
- Can travel more easily to and from the United States
- Become eligible for some benefits that help with education, healthcare, and NYC public assistance
- Can sponsor certain relatives for visas or green cards
- Can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years; 3 years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen
Who Qualifies for a Green Card?
To qualify for a green card, immigrants usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Employment-based green card – you have an employer that will sponsor you
- Family-based green card – you have a close family member such as a parent, spouse or child (this depends on the actual classification) who is either a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who will sponsor you
- Humanitarian-based green card – you are an asylum-seeker, a victim of domestic violence, a victim of a violent crime, a Special Immigrant, or a victim of human trafficking
- Extraordinary Ability green card – if you have special skills that can be an asset to the United States, you can petition for yourself without a sponsor
- Immigrant Investor green card – if you invest financially in the United States, you are eligible to apply for a green card
Additionally, you must not be guilty of aggravated felonies or serious crimes (such as murder, sexual assault, and other serious crimes) outside of or within the United States.
How to Apply to Get a Green Card in NYC
Note: the following instructions are for immigrants residing in the United States, specifically New York City. If you are residing outside of the United States and plan to apply for a green card, you will need to use consular processing.
The two main types of green cards are employment-based and family-based, so this article will focus on those.
How to apply for a family-based green card in NYC
To apply for a family-based green card, the relative who sponsors you must be an immediate relative, like a partner, parent or child. The beneficiary can be either a spouse, parent, unmarried child under 21, or unmarried stepchild under 21.
The petitioner will file an immigration petition for the beneficiary with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services along with an Adjustment of Status application, other requisite forms, and evidence.
Forms for family-based green cards
- I-130 Petition – the petitioner must complete this form
- I-130A, Supplemental Information – for spousal green cards only
- I-864, Affidavit of Support - for all green cards
- Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form would be used for beneficiaries already in the U.S.
- I-639, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
Documents needed for family-based green cards
The documents you will need for your family-based green card application vary depending on the situation. Always consult with a lawyer before submitting your application. Documents you will need may include:
- Proof of the petitioner's legal status
- Proof of family relationship
- Proof of U.S. citizenship and a copy of birth certificate if born in the US, or copy of citizenship naturalization certificate, or copy of US passport
- If permanent resident, then a copy of the petitioner’s green card
- G-28 (Notice of Appearance for the Attorney or Representative) – only needed if represented by an attorney
- Your Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
- Proof That Your Previous Marriage Ended Legally (if applicable)
- Evidence Showing Name Change (if applicable)
- Passport Photographs, color
- I-94, Arrival/Departure
- 2 G-325A Forms Biographic Data Sheets (if applicable)
How to apply for an employment based green card in NYC
There are five types of employment-based green cards: EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, EB5
Most employment-based green cards fall into the first 3 categories:
- EB1: An employee with extraordinary ability in the science, arts, education, athletics, or business. Typical professions for this category include professors, researchers and Ph.D. holders. It can also include people working in US as managers and executives on international transfer basis (Company transfer L1 holder).
- EB2: An employee with extra ability in the field of science, arts or business, and advanced degree professionals (PG. degree holder).
- EB3: This includes professionals with Bachelor/ Graduate degrees, and other skilled workers.
Your employer will have to prove on the immigrant petition that there are no U.S. workers who can meet the demands or required skillset of the position you will be filling.
Forms for employment-based green cards
You and your employment sponsor will have to complete the following forms:
Documents needed for employment-based green cards
Which documents you need from this list is dependent on your specific situation. It is recommended that you consult with a lawyer to know for sure. These are some of the documents that may be needed:
- Two passport photos
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your birth certificate
- A copy of your non-immigrant visa (if applicable)
- A copy of parole stamp issued by a U.S. officer (if applicable)
- Copy of every I-94 recorded under your name
- Proof that you have maintained lawful status since arriving in the U.S. (or that you are exempt)
- Form I-693 – Medical examination report
- Documentation of past or present J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant status (if applicable)
- Form I-485 Supplement A – Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i) (if applicable)
- Receipt of Filed Fees – receipts have to be preserved
How to file your green card application
Once your application and forms are complete and you have the appropriate documentation, you should submit your application to the appropriate USCIS office. The correct office for your situation can vary, so consult with a lawyer before submitting the application.
The Green Card Interview
After your green card application has been accepted, an in-person interview will be scheduled at a New York City USCIS office. NYC’s USCIS office is located at:
Jacob K. Javits Federal Building
26 Federal Plaza (Lafayette Street entrance)
New York, NY 10278
The petitioner and beneficiary will be interviewed by a USCIS Immigration Services Officer. What is asked may include questions to ensure the accuracy of your application: if it’s a spousal application, you may be asked questions that seek to determine if the marriage is bonafide; if it’s a relative-based application, the questions asked may be intended to ensure there is an actual relation.
During this interview process, the immigration officer can ask questions where you accidentally make a fraudulent claim. They may also ask questions they are prohibited from asking. Both cases are good reasons to have a lawyer accompany you for the interview process (a lawyer can be present during the interview).
Why Having a Lawyer’s Help Is Important When Applying for a Green Card
Between the application, the supporting documents and evidence, and the interview, there are many things that can go wrong during the green card process. If you complete the information incorrectly, forget to provide the right supporting evidence, or say something during the interview that sounds fraudulent, the following can happen:
- Your green card approval is delayed
- Your green card is denied
- You may have to resubmit the application with a waiver application, costing more court fees
- If found to have made fraudulent statements on the application or during the interview, you will be removed from the United States.
An immigration attorney will help you navigate the immigration process and lengthy green card process, ensure you have all the proper documentation you need, prevent the immigration officer from asking questions they are prohibited from asking, and protect you should immigration attempt to deport you after your green card interview.
A green card application is a time-consuming and costly process. Don’t let your hard work, money, and time go to waste because you forgot a document or made an innocent mistake – contact Peri Edelman, Immigration Attorney, to make sure your green card application is done right the first time.
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