Apply For Green Card

Steps To Apply For A Green Card

Applying for a green card is a long and tiring process and it can even take longer if you are not prepared and do not have all the required documents. It took us 4.5 years to get green cards for our family of 5.

Sometimes people start the process without being prepared.

The opportunity comes when you have been in a country for a while. And it can be an even quicker process if you have an agency you are working for to become your sponsor. We had an agency where my husband worked under an H1B visa (this is a visa that allows companies to import workers who will work for wages far below the market rate), approach us and asked if he would be interested in being sponsored for a green card. All processes were done through them until the last stage, when we had to call the immigration number to check for status.

Important things to consider when you apply for a green card:

  1. If you are already in the United States on a temporary work visa, depending on how long you have been in the country, you can apply for a green card. There different forms with different kinds of applications, depending on the temporary visa you have. I strongly suggest you go through an attorney to minimize mistakes and cut the time it takes for the process.
  2. Research the attorneys, read their reviews to understand what others are saying about the person. Google is the best place to go for reviews of what other people are saying.
    1. Find out what their customers are saying about them.
    2. If they process different types of applications
    3. Do they have staff specializing in those areas
  3. Take advantage of the competition because there are many lawyers who are providing the same services. This gives you the advantage of shopping around and selecting one who is a good fit. Have the information you need before you approach the office. On the day of your call have a pen and paper or note book and be prepared
    to take notes. Remember you only have a limited time for consultation, do not spend it asking less important questions. If you had done the research and spoken to other people with experience, then you will ask good questions which will help you later.

    1. An example of an important question would be, what kind of documents will you be requiring from me initially? You can also find out on Google what type of documents are needed to apply for green cards. When you contact the lawyer of your choice know what questions to ask, you can learn which questions from people who have already gone through the process. Learn what common mistakes people make and how not to make the same mistakes…be prepared. For example, if you start the discussion with the attorney with… “on your website it says”. This is very powerful, the office you are calling will know that they are dealing with a well-informed applicant. Also the advantage of being prepared will cut time in the process. Take advantage of those lawyers who give free consultation, the ones I came across are on the phone consultations. Here are the things I watched for:
      1. Patience… the time they take to accommodate you and how cool the lawyer sounds.
      2. YourAppointment-AgnesMwilaCoachProfessionalism…how they are talking to you, if they are focusing on you and not putting you on hold for a long time. I believe that a scheduled time should be used properly. If I am given 30 minutes then I expect the whole 30 minutes to be spent on me, if it’s not, this is a deciding factor for me to move on to another office.
      3. I should be clear on what my initial actions are, what am I required to do or submit. Another important item is to make sure you qualify to apply for a green card.
      4. Once you pick the lawyer who is going to help with your green card application, find a folder to put copies of all documents requested by the lawyer and document what date you have submitted them. This is important because if documents are lost you can always make other copies from your copies. There some documents which the lawyer will request in their original form. Most of the time you take these documents in person for a lawyer to authenticate and make copies for himself.
  4. Be aware of changes in prices…if you have notes on this then you can challenge them if they change the price.
  5. Be in touch with the visa issuing office to make sure that they have all the documents from you which is needed to issue you your visas. Ask questions like where things are in the processes. Assuming that the office has supplied you with the schedule of the steps in the process. Have that copy in front of you when you call the office to make sure you are on the same page. When you send the documents, make sure you keep copies of the documents and cover letter to show the date when you sent them. Most of the time visa offices will not acknowledge receipt of your documents
  6. Be clear about the cost of the application. We found a lawyer who offered free consultation and offered one lump sum of money to pay for everything. We also negotiated to break the payment into two installments.
  7. If you choose to apply on your own without a lawyer, then you all you need is to go to the immigration website and follow the instructions. They do give phone numbers of who to contact to check for information. Be prepared to talk to the machine…there is no person to talk to. The machine will tell you the status of your application. You will have to check from time to time for your status. There is no guarantee that you will ever speak to a person.
  8. FingerPrints-AgnesMwilaCoachThe last action will be when you get the letter from immigration to go to the nearest immigration office so they can collect fingerprints, each person may be requested for a different time. With us we had two of the members of our family get letters for fingerprinting and the other 3 came a month after. If applying for your family, do not be surprised if you get letters at several different times.
  9. After you get your green cards start to prepare for applying for citizenships in 4 years. However, check with immigrations, because laws change all the time. Good luck.

Please contact me for your Immigration Coaching needs – 425-879-1677 or email me from my Contact Form.

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