Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status—better known as the “green card”—allows a foreign resident to live within the United States legally. Obtaining this status is one of the first steps towards citizenship.

Countless individuals seek LPR status each year, but there are strict limitations on the number of visas handed out. Green card applicants must prove that they are legally allowed to receive a green card, and common problems include past immigration violations, criminal histories, visa fraud, or misstatements made to immigration officers. Given these legal challenges, it is important to have the guidance of an experienced green card attorney when applying for legal permanent resident status in Boston.

Steps in Applying for Lawful Permanent Residency in Boston

To initiate this process, a foreign resident must file an application for permanent residency. This application must be based on one of a wide range of categories. Many people seek LPR status after being sponsored by family members that are either citizens or permanent residents. Others are sponsored by a U.S. company for an “EB” visa. There are also special rules for asylees, refugees, victims of domestic violence, and victims of crime.

Along with an application, most people seeking LPR status must also file a sponsorship form called the Affidavit of Support, and most applications must also have a medical exam performed by a USCIS-designated doctor. Once all of the documentation is filed, the federal government will consider the application and may request more documents.

After applying, a foreign resident must take part in a biometrics appointment. This will include giving fingerprint samples and biographic data. This step is designed to ensure the government is confident of an applicant’s identity. Finally, an applicant must sit for an interview before their application can be accepted At the green card interview, an immigration officer will meet you face-to-face to determine your legal eligibility for a green card.

Consular Processing vs. Adjustment of Status (Outside vs. Inside the United States)

The specific steps a person takes to apply for a green card will depend on where they are living when they file the application. If a person files their application from outside the United States, they must go through a process known as consular processing. Alternatively, certain individuals already living in the United States can seek something known as an adjustment of status.

Consular processing requires a person that is outside of the United States to perform an interview at the U.S. Consulate in their country of residence. Click here for more information about consular processing. A person who has already come to the United States with a visa and was “inspected and admitted” at the border is not required to return home or leave the United States to seek a green card. This is important, especially for those seeking LPR status as refugees. Common circumstances where adjustment of status is appropriate include:

  • A person that is in the United States studying at a local Boston college on a student visa seeking an adjustment of status to become an LPR after graduation.
  • A worker who has been on a nonimmigrant employment visa, but whose Boston-based health-tech company files for an immigrant visa for them.
  • A person who entered the United States as a visitor, but now has a relative who can file for them

Green Cards For People Who Entered Illegally

Actually, we don’t think of “illegal entries” but something called an “entry without inspection”—someone who crossed the border without presenting themselves to border control. A person who lives in the United States, but entered without a visa, are generally not allowed to get a green card while inside the United States. Instead, they will need to do consular processing, and will probably require a waiver. Read more here about the I-601A Provisional Waiver.

What is the National Visa Center?

For some people, it is not enough to have a petition for an immigrant visa approved. Before a U.S. Consulate will issue a green card visa, the National Visa Center will prepare the case and hold the case until the consulate is ready to schedule an interview.

Depending on the grounds a person is seeking a green card, there could be a significant waiting period before they are eligible due to visa backlogs. This waiting process is handled through the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will hold on to the case until the case becomes “current” – in other words, the person has waited their turn in line long enough that the next visa available could be theirs.

When it is a person’s turn, they will receive notice from the National Visa Center that the process can move forward. Our Massachusetts immigration attorneys help prepare the required materials for the National Visa Center and can answer any questions during this waiting period.

Talk to an Attorney About Applying for LPR Status in Boston

It is crucial for anyone seeking LPR status to live and work in the United States to carefully adhere to the guidelines that come with the application. If you are applying for legal permanent resident (LPR) status in Boston, it is best if you do not do so alone. Call an experienced attorney right away for help with your petition. Our experienced team at Gorton Law can provide guidance and ensure that you properly file your application.