Despite the media coverage related to the immigration policies of the United States, the government offers numerous paths for foreign nationals to live, work, travel and study in this country. You may have taken advantage of one of these visa programs to lawfully enter the U.S. and obtain temporary residency in Louisiana. While the process can be challenging and the wait can be frustrating, the benefits available to you when you reach your goal are often worth the trouble.
In fact, you may feel so strongly about the positive changes in your life since you gained temporary residency in the U.S. that you are considering adjusting your immigration status from temporary to permanent residency through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services green card program. You may be relieved to know that if you qualify, you will not have to return to your home country to complete the adjustment process.
Steps to expect
Since there are a variety of ways to apply for a U.S. green card, you will want to understand which category best fits your eligibility. Many in your situation find it helpful to obtain legal advice from the very beginning to ensure they do not lose valuable time pursuing a program for which they do not qualify. However, the general process for adjusting your status to permanent residency includes the following steps:
- Complete the appropriate forms for your green card eligibility category.
- If you do not already have a visa, you will have to apply for one.
- Watch your mail for a notification of your biometrics appointment at the nearest Immigration Application Support Center.
- Gather the documents you need and go to your biometrics appointment, at which immigration agents will take your photo, fingerprints and signature for use in your background and security investigations.
- Watch your mail for a notification of an appointment for your interview with USCIS although the agency may waive this requirement.
- Gather the original documents from your application, your passport and other items the USCIS may request, and arrive on time for your interview.
When you have completed your interview, the USCIS agent may request additional information if there are questions about your eligibility or missing documents from your application. Otherwise, your answer will arrive in the mail. If the government approves your adjustment of status, you will receive your green card a short time later. If they deny your request, you may have the option to appeal the decision. It is wise to have an attorney review your case and offer advice based on knowledge and experience of immigration laws.