Understanding How The Green Card Process Works

January 29, 2024

Navigating the path to obtaining a Green Card, formally known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a significant milestone for many aspiring to live and work in the United States. This process, while rewarding, can be complex and multifaceted, involving various steps and legal considerations. At Salmón & Haas, our immigration attorneys in San Antonio are dedicated to helping our clients understand and successfully navigate this journey. Here’s a detailed look at how the Green Card process works.

Determining Eligibility

The first step in the Green Card process is determining eligibility. There are several categories under which an individual can apply for a Green Card, including family sponsorship, employment, as a refugee or asylee, and through the Green Card Lottery. Each category has specific eligibility criteria that must be met. Learn more about how the Green Card Lottery works here

Application Filing

Once eligibility is confirmed, the next step involves filing the appropriate petition. For family-sponsored and employment-based categories, this usually means a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident will file a petition on behalf of the applicant. In contrast, refugees or asylees can apply on their behalf.

Visa Availability

For many Green Card categories, there is a limit on the number of visas issued each year, which means there can be a waiting period before a visa becomes available. The Department of State’s monthly Visa Bulletin provides updates on visa availability.

Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

Once a visa is available, the applicant will either adjust their status (if they are already in the U.S.) or go through consular processing (if outside the U.S.). Adjustment of status involves filing Form I-485, while consular processing is completed through a U.S. embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country.

Biometrics Appointment and Interview

Applicants are generally required to attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photos, and a signature. Most applicants will also have an interview, during which they will answer questions about their application and eligibility.


After the interview and the review of the application, a decision will be made. If approved, the applicant will receive their Green Card. However, if there are issues with the application, it might be denied, or a Request for Evidence (RFE) may be issued.

Conditional Residency and Removal of Conditions

Some individuals receive a conditional Green Card, valid for two years. To remain a permanent resident, a petition to remove the conditions must be filed within 90 days before the card expires.

Renewal or Naturalization

Green Cards are typically valid for ten years. Permanent residents may choose to renew their Green Card or, if eligible, apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

For Assistance Navigating the Green Card Process, Trust Salmón & Haas Immigration Attorneys

Navigating the Green Card process can be challenging, especially given the complexities and frequent changes in immigration law. This is where an immigration attorney can be invaluable. At Salmón & Haas Immigration Attorneys, we provide expert guidance and personalized support to help our clients understand their options, prepare the necessary documentation, and navigate each step of the Green Card process.

If you are considering applying for a Green Card or have questions about the process, contact Salmón & Haas Immigration Attorneys for expert legal advice and support. Our experienced team is here to assist you every step of the way. Get started with a free consultation.

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Immigration law can be complex, but we always stay on top of the latest developments. If you have questions about immigration law or your immigration case, contact us today to set up a free initial consultation.

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