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Five Questions Answered About United States Permanent Residence

Permanent residence in the United States is a dream for many. It is the first step towards gaining United States citizenship. I will discuss five key questions when it comes to permanent residence in the United States. I hope this will help you determine if you qualify for residence and how to keep permanent residence once gained.

Do You Need A Lawyer To Apply For Green Card And Can I Apply By Myself?

There is a popular saying amongst attorneys in the United States that answers this question: “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” Hopefully, this will answer this question. Representing yourself in your green card application can lead to you losing your case.

When I was applying for my own green card, I hired an immigration attorney, even though I am one. I did that because you get emotionally involved when you file your own case. Emotional involvement leads to errors. Errors lead to potential denial of your case.

Moreover, you may simply be ineligible for permanent residence and not know it. An arrest in your past, even without a conviction, may make you inadmissible to the United States, and could lead you straight to removal proceedings in the United States. Having the help of an experienced attorney like myself would help you avoid this grave consequence.

An experienced immigration attorney knows the pitfalls and ways to boost your chances of obtaining permanent residence. Simple said, Hire an Attorney!

How Many Years Does It Take To Get A Green Card?

The answer to this question depends on two things: your nationality and the petitioner’s status. Your nationality affects the timeline because of the per-country limitations on the number of visa available every year. This means that an applicant for permanent residence, from your country, who applied before you, gets preference to get an immigrant visa before you. Applicants from India, China and Mexico, are oversubscribed and may face many years of waiting for immigrant visas because there are many applicants from these countries.

The status of the petitioner may also affect the timeline. By status I mean whether the petitioner is a lawful permanent resident or a United States citizen. Immediate relatives of United States citizens, (spouses, children under 21 years old, and parents), do not have to wait for a visa number and the numbers are immediately available. This means that they receive permanent residents quickly.

Other beneficiaries must wait for a visa number to be available. This includes spouses and children of permanent residents and relatives of United States citizens who are not immediate relatives. As mentioned above, this could mean that these beneficiaries could wait for years (up to 30) to receive permanent residence.

How Long Does A Permanent Resident Can Stay Outside The US?

This question relates to what is known as abandonment of residence. The time limit is in place to force permanent residents to make the United States their permanent home. There are three-time limitations:

  • Stays outside the United States under 180 days do not affect permanent residence
  • Stays between 180 days and 359 days raise a rebuttable presumption of abandonment
  • Stays 0f 360 days or more raise an absolute presumption of abandonment.

A rebuttable presumption means that a permanent resident may rebut the presumption by showing that he/she did not intend to abandon permanent residence in the United States. Some factors that could help rebut the presumption include filing taxes in the United States, having or owning a home, family ties, and all other factors that show strong ties to the United States.

An absolute presumption means that the permanent resident may not be able to rebut the presumption and must show his/her intent before an immigration judge in removal proceedings. Returning permanent residents who remain outside the United States for more than one year may be placed in removal proceedings upon returning to the United States. The reason behind this requirement is the fact that the lawful permanent resident card automatically expires after a stay of more than 360 days outside the United States.

Please contact us if you think that you might have abandoned your residence.

What Is The Difference Between Green Card And Permanent Residence?

A “green card” or a lawful permanent resident card is simply proof of your status as a lawful permanent resident. A green card is a colloquial term referring to your lawful permanent card.

The term “green card” originated in Ellis Island, where these “green cards” first appeared. The card at the time was green. The green card was used as proof of status and employers frequently asked immigrant employees for a “green card’ to prove their employment eligibility. The card however is no longer green and has gone through several redesigns since then.

How Long Would It Take To Transition From Permanent Residence To United States Citizenship?

The answer depends on the preference category when applying for permanent residence. Usually, the period ranges from three to five years. The five years duration is the rule. However, there are some permanent residents who may qualify for citizenship earlier. For example, a spouse of a United States citizen, who has been a permanent resident for there years, and married to the same United States citizen for the same duration, may apply after three years of permanent residence. Others, including self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act may also qualify for the three years rule.

There are also other programs which shorten the duration. For example, applicant for permanent residence under the Cuban Adjustment Act qualify for citizenship after four years of permanent residence.

Another factor which could affect the duration is the period of physical presence in the United States. Usually, an applicant for citizenship must be present in the United States for 50% of the duration before applying for citizenship. This means that a person applying under the 5 years rule must be physically present in the United States for 30 months without remaining outside the United States for longer that 180 days.

Please contact us if you have any questions about your permanent residence.

  • Biden’s “New Green Card” Rule
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