GREEN CARD & NATURALIZATION

Do you wish to stay in US permanently?

 

1) EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY GREEN CARD

2) MULTINATIONAL MANAGER OR EXECUTIVE GREEN CARD

3) MARRIAGE BASED GREEN CARD

 

 

PERMANENT RESIDENCE (GREEN CARD) - EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY

General Requirements

You may be eligible for permanent residence if you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

Establishing extraordinary ability

In order to qualify for permanent residence as an individual with extraordinary ability, you must have achieved a level of expertise indicating you are one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of your field of endeavour. To meet this requirement, you must be able to provide evidence demonstrating that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise. Such evidence shall include:

A. Documentation of your receipt of a major, internationally recognized award

OR

B. At least three of the following:

  1. Documentation of your receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field of endeavour;
  2. Documentation of your membership in associations in your field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
  3. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about you, relating to your work in the field;
  4. Evidence of your participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in your field;
  5. Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  6. Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications, or other major media;
  7. Evidence of the display of your work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  8. Evidence that you have performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  9. Evidence that you have commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services; or
  10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts.

If the aforementioned criteria do not readily apply to your occupation, you may provide comparable evidence to establish your eligibility.

Work in the US

An offer of employment in the US is not required to qualify for permanent residence based on your extraordinary ability, however you must be able to provide evidence that you will continue to work in your area of expertise in the US.

Permanent Residence Application Process

Obtaining permanent residence as an individual with extraordinary ability is a two-step process involving: 1) an immigrant petition filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and 2) a visa interview at a US consular post abroad OR an application to adjust status within the US.

1. Immigrant Petition Processing

You or your employer may file your immigrant petition which establishes your extraordinary ability.

Petition Documentation

Your immigrant petition must include the following:

  • Documentation establishing your extraordinary ability;
  • Documentation establishing your employer’s ability to pay your wage, if your employer is serving as petitioner; and
  • Evidence that you will work in the US in the area of your expertise.

Petition Adjudication

Once your immigrant petition is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Processing times may vary depending on workload, therefore it is best to confirm current processing times at the time your immigrant petition is filed.

If during the adjudication process a USCIS adjudicating officer determines that additional information and/or documentation is needed to render a decision on the case, a request for additional information will be issued. Such requests vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested.

Upon receipt of the requested information and documentation, USCIS will resume processing of the petition.

Premium Processing

For an additional fee, you may request premium processing of your petition. Under this service USCIS will adjudicate your case within 15 calendar days. If a request for additional evidence is issued on a petition filed using the premium processing service, USCIS will have an additional 15 calendar days from receipt of the response to adjudicate the case.

2. Immigrant visa application OR Adjustment of status

Presuming your immigrant petition is approved, you will either apply for an immigrant visa abroad to enter the US as a permanent resident OR apply to adjust your status in the US to that of a permanent resident.

Immigrant visa application
If you are outside the US it will be necessary for you to obtain an immigrant visa at a consular post abroad for you to enter the US as a permanent resident.

Following petition approval, the immigrant petition will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) for immigrant visa pre-processing. NVC will collect documentation necessary to verify your eligibility for the immigrant visa.

Such documentation includes (but is not limited to):

  • Copy of your birth certificate; and
  • Copies of police certificates for any jurisdiction where you have resided or been arrested.

Once the aforementioned documentation has been received, NVC will schedule the immigrant visa interview and transfer the supporting documentation to the consular post.

Prior to the interview you will be required to attend a medical exam at an authorized physician’s office. The physician will conduct a physical exam, ask questions about your health and ensure you have received required vaccinations.

At the immigrant visa interview a consular officer will ask you questions to confirm the accuracy of the information provided in the immigrant petition. In addition, the consular officer may request to review the original documents submitted as copies to NVC. You will be notified of the decision made on your application at the interview. Provided the application is approved, the consular officer will retain your passport for visa stamping.

Your passport with embossed immigrant visa stamp will be returned to you within approximately one week of the interview. You will also receive a sealed immigrant packet to present upon your initial entry to the US as a permanent resident.

Entry to the US

Upon receipt of your passport you may enter the US by presenting your unexpired immigrant visa and sealed immigrant packet at a US port of entry. Your permanent residency will become effective on the date you are admitted.

Your immigrant visa will serve as evidence of your permanent residency until your permanent resident card, or green card, is issued.

Adjustment of status application

If you are inside the US you may apply to adjust your status in the US to that of a permanent resident.

Prior to submitting your application to adjust status, you will be required to attend a medical exam at an authorized physician’s office. The physician will conduct a physical exam, ask questions about your health and verify you have received required vaccinations. You will receive your medical exam results in a sealed envelope which you will submit with the application to adjust status.

Once the application to adjust status is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Application processing times may vary depending on USCIS workload, therefore it is best to confirm current processing times when the application to adjust status is filed.

Biometrics appointment
Following submission of the application to adjust status, you will be required to attend a biometrics appointment at a local USCIS office. Processing of the application to adjust status will resume following capture of your biometrics.

Requests for evidence
If during the adjudication process a USCIS adjudicating officer determines that additional information and/or documentation is needed to render a decision on a case, a request for additional information will be issued. Such requests vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested. Upon receipt of the requested information and documentation, USCIS will resume processing of the application.

Adjustment of status interview
During the application adjudication process, it may be necessary for you to attend an adjustment of status interview at a local USCIS office. At the adjustment of status interview, the interviewing officer may ask you questions to confirm the accuracy of the information and documentation provided in the application. In addition, the interviewing officer may request to review the original supporting documents submitted as copies with the application to adjust status.

Provided your application to adjust status is approved you will become a permanent resident on the date of application approval.

Permanent Resident Card

Within approximately one month of being granted permanent resident status, you will receive your permanent resident card, also known as a green card, which will serve as ongoing evidence of your permanent resident status. The permanent resident card is typically valid for ten years, after which time you will need to apply for renewal of the permanent resident card.

Maintaining Permanent Residence

In order to maintain permanent residence you must continue to reside in the US. Long-term or frequent travel outside the US may lead to unintentional abandonment of permanent resident status. It is therefore prudent to seek legal advice prior to engaging in significant travel outside the US.

Permanent residence may also be revoked following the commission of serious offenses.

US Citizenship

Beneficiaries of employment-based immigrant petitions who have been permanent residents for at least five years may be eligible for naturalization.

In order to qualify a permanent resident must:

  • Meet continuous and physical presence requirements;
  • Be able to read, write and speak English;
  • Have an understanding of US history and government; and
  • Be a person of good moral character.

Once a permanent resident has naturalized he/she will be entitled to all the rights and privileges granted to US citizens.

Permanent Residence Process Alternatives

If you are unable to provide sufficient evidence documenting your extraordinary ability, you may wish to consider alternative employment-based routes to permanent residence detailed in USCIS’ employment-based second and third preference categories.

In general, in order to qualify for the occupational categories detailed below, you must: 1) have a full-time job offer in the US; and 2) be performing work for which no qualified workers are available.

The Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) category details two occupational sub-categories eligible for permanent residence:

  • Professionals with Advanced Degrees: To qualify as a professional with an advanced degree you must hold a US academic or professional degree or foreign equivalent degree above that of baccalaureate. A US a baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent degree plus five years’ progressive work experience in the field is considered the equivalent of a master’s degree.
  • Individuals with Exceptional Ability: To qualify as an individual with exceptional ability you must be able to demonstrate a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered, in the sciences, arts or business. If it is in the national interest of the US for you to work permanently in the US, you may request a waiver of USCIS’ job offer requirement (and thus of a permanent labor certification, detailed below) for this occupational category.

The Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3) category details three occupational sub-categories eligible for permanent residence:

  • Skilled Workers: To qualify as a skilled worker you must be able to demonstrate at least two years of job experience or training.
  • Professionals: To qualify as a professional you must be able to demonstrate you possess a US baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent.
  • Unskilled Workers: To qualify as an unskilled worker you must be capable of performing unskilled labor (requiring less than two years’ training or experience) that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

The category under which you qualify will determine when you may apply for permanent residence based on available immigrant numbers.

Permanent Labor Certification

Presuming an applicable waiver has not been requested, prior to submitting your immigrant petition pursuant to one of the occupational categories listed above, your employer must obtain a permanent labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL) which certifies that: 1) there are no qualified workers available for your position; and 2) that your employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers.

We detail below the process for obtaining a permanent labor certification:

Processing times for the permanent labor certification process are variable and generally quite lengthy, therefore it is best to confirm current processing times at the beginning of the permanent labor certification process.

Upon receipt of the permanent labor certification from DOL your employer will file your immigrant petition; provided your immigrant petition is approved you will be able to apply for an immigrant visa or an adjustment of status in accordance with applicable second or third-preference processing dates.

PERMANENT RESIDENCE (GREEN CARD)

MULTINATIONAL MANAGER

General Requirements

You may be eligible for permanent residence as a multinational manager or executive if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are required to fill an executive or managerial role in the US; and
  • You have been employed abroad by the same company, or a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary thereof in an executive or managerial role for one of the last three years; or
  • If you are already working in the US, you worked for the same company, or a subsidiary or affiliate thereof, abroad as a manager or executive for at least one year in the three years preceding your entry to the US as a nonimmigrant.

An executive role is defined as an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

  • Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

A managerial role is defined as an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

  • Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization;
  • Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions, or if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy; and
  • Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

Permanent Residence Application Process

Obtaining permanent residence as a multinational manager or executive is a two-step process involving: 1) an immigrant petition filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and 2) a visa interview at a US consular post abroad OR an application to adjust status within the US.

1. Immigrant Petition Processing

Petition Documentation
In order for you to obtain permanent residence as a multinational manager or executive, it will be necessary for your US employer to file an immigrant petition with USCIS on your behalf.

Your immigrant petition must include the following to demonstrate eligibility for permanent residence:

  • Evidence that your US employer and the company which employed you abroad are qualifying organizations;
  • Evidence that your US employer has been doing business for at least one year;
  • Evidence that you have the required continuous year of full-time employment abroad with a qualifying organization;
  • Evidence that your prior year of qualifying employment abroad was in a position that was managerial or executive;
  • Evidence that your position in the US will be managerial or executive in nature; and
  • Evidence that your US employer has the ability to pay the proffered wage.

Petition Adjudication
Once your immigrant petition is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Processing times may vary depending on workload, therefore it is best to confirm current processing times at the time your immigrant petition is filed.

If during the adjudication process a USCIS adjudicating officer determines that additional information and/or documentation is needed to render a decision on the case, a request for additional information will be issued. Such requests vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested.

Upon receipt of the requested information and documentation, USCIS will resume processing of the petition.

2. Immigrant visa application OR Adjustment of status

Presuming your immigrant petition is approved, you will either apply for an immigrant visa abroad to enter the US as a permanent resident OR apply to adjust your status in the US to that of a permanent resident.

Immigrant visa application
If you are outside the US it will be necessary for you to obtain an immigrant visa at a consular post abroad for you to enter the US as a permanent resident.

Following petition approval, the immigrant petition will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) for immigrant visa pre-processing. NVC will collect documentation necessary to verify your eligibility for the immigrant visa.

Such documentation includes (but is not limited to):

  • Copy of your birth certificate; and
  • Copies of police certificates for any jurisdiction where you have resided or been arrested.

Once the aforementioned documentation has been received, NVC will schedule the immigrant visa interview and transfer the supporting documentation to the consular post.

Prior to the interview you will be required to attend a medical exam at an authorized physician’s office. The physician will conduct a physical exam, ask questions about your health and ensure you have received required vaccinations.

At the immigrant visa interview a consular officer will ask you questions to confirm the accuracy of the information provided in the immigrant petition. In addition, the consular officer may request to review the original documents submitted as copies to NVC. You will be notified of the decision made on your application at the interview. Provided the application is approved, the consular officer will retain your passport for visa stamping.

Your passport with embossed immigrant visa stamp will be returned to you within approximately one week of the interview. You will also receive a sealed immigrant packet to present upon your initial entry to the US as a permanent resident.

Entry to the US
Upon receipt of your passport you may enter the US by presenting your unexpired immigrant visa and sealed immigrant packet at a US port of entry. Your permanent residency will become effective on the date you are admitted.

Your immigrant visa will serve as evidence of your permanent residency until your permanent resident card, or green card, is issued.

Adjustment of status application
If you are inside the US you may apply to adjust your status in the US to that of a permanent resident.

Prior to submitting your application to adjust status, you will be required to attend a medical exam at an authorized physician’s office. The physician will conduct a physical exam, ask questions about your health and verify you have received required vaccinations. You will receive your medical exam results in a sealed envelope which you will submit with the application to adjust status.

Once the application to adjust status is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Application processing times may vary depending on USCIS workload, therefore it is best to confirm current processing times when the application to adjust status is filed.

Biometrics appointment
Following submission of the application to adjust status, you will be required to attend a biometrics appointment at a local USCIS office. Processing of the application to adjust status will resume following capture of your biometrics.

Requests for evidence
If during the adjudication process a USCIS adjudicating officer determines that additional information and/or documentation is needed to render a decision on a case, a request for additional information will be issued. Such requests vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested. Upon receipt of the requested information and documentation, USCIS will resume processing of the application.

Adjustment of status interview
During the application adjudication process, it may be necessary for you to attend an adjustment of status interview at a local USCIS office. At the adjustment of status interview, the interviewing officer may ask you questions to confirm the accuracy of the information and documentation provided in the application. In addition, the interviewing officer may request to review the original supporting documents submitted as copies with the application to adjust status.

Provided your application to adjust status is approved you will become a permanent resident on the date of application approval.

Permanent Resident Card

Within approximately one month of being granted permanent resident status, you will receive your permanent resident card, also known as a green card, which will serve as ongoing evidence of your permanent resident status. The permanent resident card is typically valid for ten years; after which time you will need to apply for renewal of the permanent resident card.

Maintaining Permanent Residence

In order to maintain permanent residence, you must continue to reside in the US. Long-term or frequent travel outside the US may lead to unintentional abandonment of permanent resident status. It is therefore prudent to seek legal advice prior to engaging in significant travel outside the US.

Permanent residence may also be revoked following the commission of serious offenses.

US Citizenship

Beneficiaries of employment-based immigrant petitions who have been permanent residents for at least five years may be eligible for naturalization.

In order to qualify a permanent resident must:

  • Meet continuous and physical presence requirements;
  • Be able to read, write and speak English;
  • Have an understanding of US history and government; and
  • Be a person of good moral character.

Once a permanent resident has naturalized he/she will be entitled to all the rights and privileges granted to US citizens.

Permanent Residence Process Alternatives

If you are unable to provide sufficient evidence of your eligibility as a multinational manager or executive, you may wish to consider alternative employment-based routes to permanent residence detailed in USCIS’ employment-based second and third preference categories.

In general, in order to qualify for the occupational categories detailed below, you must: 1) have a full-time job offer in the US; and 2) be performing work for which no qualified workers are available.

The Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) category details two occupational sub-categories eligible for permanent residence:

  • Professionals with Advanced Degrees: To qualify as a professional with an advanced degree you must hold a US academic or professional degree or foreign equivalent degree above that of baccalaureate. A US a baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent degree plus five years’ progressive work experience in the field is considered the equivalent of a master’s degree.
  • Individuals with Exceptional Ability: To qualify as an individual with exceptional ability you must be able to demonstrate a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered, in the sciences, arts or business. If it is in the national interest of the US for you to work permanently in the US, you may request a waiver of USCIS’ job offer requirement (and thus of a permanent labor certification, detailed below) for this occupational category.

The Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3) category details three occupational sub-categories eligible for permanent residence:

  • Skilled Workers: To qualify as a skilled worker you must be able to demonstrate at least two years of job experience or training.
  • Professionals: To qualify as a professional you must be able to demonstrate you possess a US baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent.
  • Unskilled Workers: To qualify as an unskilled worker you must be capable of performing unskilled labor (requiring less than two years’ training or experience) that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

The category under which you qualify will determine when you may apply for permanent residence based on available immigrant numbers.

Permanent Labor Certification

Presuming an applicable waiver has not been requested, prior to submitting your immigrant petition pursuant to one of the occupational categories listed above, your employer must obtain a permanent labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL) which certifies that: 1) there are no qualified workers available for your position; and 2) that your employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers.

We detail below the process for obtaining a permanent labor certification:

Processing times for the permanent labor certification process are variable and generally quite lengthy, therefore it is best to confirm current processing times at the beginning of the permanent labor certification process.

Upon receipt of the permanent labor certification from DOL your employer will file your immigrant petition; provided your immigrant petition is approved you will be able to apply for an immigrant visa or an adjustment of status in accordance with applicable second or third-preference processing dates.

PERMANENT RESIDENCE (GREEN CARD) THROUGH MARRIAGE

A US citizen may sponsor their non-US citizen spouse for permanent residence which will allow their spouse to legally work and reside in the US. If the US citizen and his/her spouse are outside the US, it will be necessary for the spouse to obtain an immigrant visa to enter the US as a permanent resident.

Immigrant Visa Application Process

Obtaining an immigrant visa is a two-step process involving: 1) an immigrant petition filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and 2) a visa interview at a US consular post abroad.

1. Immigrant Petition Processing

Petition Documentation

If a US citizen resides abroad in a consular jurisdiction which permits direct consular filing he/she may file the immigrant petition on behalf of his/her non-US citizen spouse directly with the USCIS office at the consular post.

Documentation which must be submitted with the immigrant petition includes (but is not limited to):

  • Proof of the US citizen spouse’s US citizenship;
  • Proof of the US citizen spouse’s residence in the jurisdiction of the consular post; and
  • A copy of the US citizen and non-US citizen’s marriage certificate.
Petition Adjudication

Once the immigrant petition is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Petition processing times vary depending on USCIS workload, therefore it is best to confirm current processing times when the immigrant petition is filed.

If during the adjudication process a USCIS adjudicating officer determines that additional information and/or documentation is needed to render a decision on the petition, a request for additional information will be issued. Such requests vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested.

2. Immigrant Visa Processing

USCIS will notify the US citizen spouse of its approval or denial of the immigrant petition. Presuming the petition is approved, the immigrant petition will be transferred to the Immigrant Visa Unit at the US consular post in the country where the non-US citizen spouse resides. The US consular post will then process the non-US citizen spouse’s immigrant visa application and arrange for his/her immigrant visa interview.

In preparation for the interview, the non-US citizen spouse must gather documentation to verify his/her eligibility for the immigrant visa. Such documentation includes (but is not limited to):

  • An Affidavit of Support and supporting documentation establishing that the sponsor of the non-US citizen spouse has the financial means to support him/her in the US;
  • The non-US citizen spouse’s original birth certificate;
  • Original police certificates for any jurisdiction where the non-US citizen spouse has resided or been arrested; and
  • The US citizen and non-US citizen spouse’s original marriage certificate.

In addition, prior to the interview, the non-US citizen spouse will be required to attend a medical examination at an authorized physician’s office. The physician will conduct a physical examination of the non-US citizen spouse, ask questions about his/her health and verify he/she has received required vaccinations.

Following transmittal of the non-US citizen spouse’s medical exam results to the US consular post, he/she will attend his/her visa interview. At the interview a consular officer will ask the non-US citizen spouse questions to confirm the accuracy of the information provided in the immigrant petition and supporting documentation. The non-US citizen spouse will be notified of the decision made on his/her application at the interview. Provided the application is approved, the consular officer will retain the non-US citizen spouse’s passport for visa stamping.

The non-US citizen’s passport with embossed immigrant visa stamp will be returned to him/her within approximately one week of the interview. The non-US citizen spouse will also receive a sealed immigrant packet to present upon his/her initial entry to the US as a permanent resident.

Entry to the US

Upon receipt of his/her passport the non-US citizen spouse may enter the US by presenting his/her unexpired immigrant visa and sealed immigrant packet at a US port of entry. His/her permanent resident status will become effective on the date he/she is admitted.

Permanent Resident Card

Within approximately one month of his/her initial entry to the US the non-US citizen spouse will receive his/her permanent resident card, also known as a green card, which will serve as ongoing evidence of his/her permanent resident status. The permanent resident card is typically valid for ten years, after which time the non-US citizen spouse will need to apply for renewal of the permanent resident card. However, if the non-US citizen spouse has been granted conditional permanent residence the permanent resident card will be valid for two years.

Conditional permanent residence is granted when a US-citizen and non-US citizen spouse have been married for less than two years prior to the date that the non-US citizen spouse was admitted to the US as a permanent resident. In order for the non-US citizen spouse to maintain permanent residence beyond two years he/she must apply to remove the conditions within the 90-day period before the permanent resident card expires.

For legal advice please contact NNU Immigration Limited at info@nnulaw.com.