When people in Illinois talk about getting a “green card” in connection with immigration, they are referring to the process of obtaining permission to live in the United States as a permanent resident. This can be a complex process that differs greatly depending on a person’s status.
For example, for some immediate family members of U.S. citizens, it is fairly quick and straightforward. This includes spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of citizens who are at least 21. Other family members, such as siblings and children 21 or older, must go through a much longer process. Both this category and that of workers with needed skills are placed into preference categories.
There are a number of other categories besides these. Green card lotteries are for people from countries that have low immigration rates and are intended to increase diversity. Asylum and refugee status may be offered to be people who are in danger in their own country because of their membership in a protected class, such as religion or race. In the past, amnesties have been granted, and people who have lived in the country for many years, even illegally, may still be eligible for a green card if they can be shown to have good character.
Immigration law can be complicated, and people who wish to obtain a green card may want to discuss the situation with an attorney. The person might be eligible to apply in more than one category, but one category may offer more advantages than others. An attorney may also be able to assist in the case of deportation procedures. The fast-changing nature of immigration law means people may not be able to rely upon the experience of friends and family members who went through the process.