How to obtain PR in the USA?

How to obtain PR in the USA?

How to obtain PR in the USA?
Prashant Thapa

The United States of America (USA) is renowned as a land of opportunities. Many individuals aspire to immigrate to the USA to fulfil their American Dreams, which are believed to be attainable regardless of a person's birthplace or social class. For numerous immigrants, obtaining a Permanent Residence (Green Card) in the US is a cherished dream as it grants them the authorisation to live and work permanently there. Achieving permanent residency in the USA is not impossible; it requires advanced preparation and planning. 

The immigration regulations in the USA are founded on several core principles, including the admission of immigrants with valuable skills that contribute to the country, family reunification, protection of refugees, and promotion of cultural diversity. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) serves as the legal framework governing immigration policies in the USA. According to reports, the country offers up to 675,000 permanent visas annually across various categories. Furthermore, the USA does not impose any restrictions on spouses, children (below 21 years of age), and parents of US citizens.

PR in the USA - Permanent Visas

Curious about how to obtain permanent residency in the USA? Individuals holding Green Cards are considered permanent residents with legal authorisation to live and work in the country permanently. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a permanent resident card, also known as a Green Card, as proof of this status. There are multiple pathways through which individuals can become permanent residents.

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How long does it take to get PR in the USA?

In most cases, Green Cards may take approximately two years to become available, and the entire process can take close to three years. Many people secure sponsorship from employers or family members in the USA. 

Others may obtain permanent residency through asylee or refugee status, while some may enter the country through humanitarian programs. Certain situations may make individuals eligible to file for green cards independently.

To determine your eligibility for a green card, it is crucial to visit the USCIS website, especially for Indian citizens seeking PR in the USA. Subsequently, you must access the USCIS green card forms page to identify the forms you must complete before submitting them online. This step is of utmost importance in your application for PR status, so be sure to follow the online instructions carefully.

Is obtaining PR in the USA straightforward?

Although it may not be as challenging as you imagine, it is not a walk in the park either! To successfully obtain PR, you must diligently follow the instructions and include all required supporting documents. 

Your application needs to meet the criteria set by the USCIS. Many students often inquire about obtaining PR in the USA after completing their studies. 

In such cases, they can explore options such as securing employer sponsorship, seeking asylum, marrying a US citizen, obtaining sponsorship from a business relative, or participating in military service to qualify for child or parent sponsorship.

F-1 Visas

These visas provide countless opportunities for international students to enrol in public schools and universities in the USA. It is crucial to carefully review the eligibility criteria and explore options for Optional Practical Training (OPT) to obtain a work permit. Additionally, it is essential to understand how to change your status to a professional employee (H1-B) after completing your education.

See How to Apply for a Student Visa for the USA?

H-1B Visas

This temporary visa is intended for individuals in the USA to work in professional positions, including distinguished fashion models. Common occupations covered by the H1-B visa include engineers, doctors, IT professionals, accountants, teachers, healthcare professionals, architects, and more. 

Additionally, 20,000 H-1B visas are allocated for individuals with advanced educational degrees from higher education institutions in the USA. USCIS accepts H-1B petitions from various employers each year starting April 1st. Those with approved H-1B visa petitions can begin employment from October 1st.

LCA Procedures

The procedures involved in hiring H-1B professional workers include submitting labour condition applications (LCAs) to the Department of Labor. Employers or companies should file LCA approval notices along with I-129 petitions. 

These LCAs outline various terms and conditions, such as the employer's responsibility to cover the return travel expenses of employees who are terminated before the completion of their employment period. Foreign speciality professionals are not required to maintain their foreign residences and may pursue permanent residency in the USA.

The H-1B1 category pertains to individuals engaged in speciality occupations that require both practical and theoretical application of highly advanced knowledge. The H-1B petition documents typically include copies of the applicant's foreign degrees, licenses, contracts, evidence of speciality occupation, the certified LCA from the Department of Labor, and more. 

On the other hand, the H-1B2 category is for individuals coming to the USA for research and development projects sponsored by the Department of Defense. In this case, the employer must file the I-129 form, which outlines the employment description, names of non-permanent residents, and employment dates. LCAs are not required for this category.

Also, See Average cost of different types of accommodations in the USA

Obtaining Work Permits/Visas for the USA

Work permits and visas are issued to individuals who plan to work in the USA for a temporary period. Employers are responsible for filing individual petitions with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS); approved petitions are required for work visa applications.

Qualifications for Work Visas:

To qualify for work visas, applicants must have a job offer or employment opportunity within the USA. Documents from the employer will be necessary to initiate the visa application process. The employer is responsible for filing a petition for nonimmigrant workers with the USCIS. 

This petition, known as the I-129 form, is a crucial document for obtaining the visa, and the application can commence once it receives approval. A labour certificate with Department of Labour approval is also required for H-1B1, H-1B, H-2B, and H-2A visas. This certificate serves as proof that employers in the USA require foreign workers.

Requirements for Applicants:

  • Valid passport
  • Photograph
  • Receipt number from the I-129 form
  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Proof of payment of the application fee
  • Evidence of plans to return to the home country includes economic circumstances, residence, family ties, return airfare, etc.
  • For L-visa category applicants, the I-129S form is also required.

Application Procedure:

  • Complete and submit the DS-160 form.
  • Schedule an interview appointment.
  • Attend the interview and confidently answer all questions honestly and accurately.
  • Complete any additional formalities, including providing digital fingerprints/biometrics and paying all necessary fees.
  • Spouses and children in the same visa category may apply for visas accordingly (H4 for H-visa holders, O-3 for O-visa holders, L-2 for L-visa holders, and P-4 for P-visa holders).

The Labor Department issues Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) to companies intending to hire foreign professionals. This grants employers the right to hire employees without Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status and sponsor their visas. However, individuals with nonimmigrant visas cannot immediately begin working. 

They need to obtain their work permits, known as Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), provided upon visa approval. The EAD grants permission to legally work at any company in the USA for the duration of the visa. Eligible spouses can also obtain EADs. It is possible to apply for extensions or renewals of the EAD as needed.

Applying for Permanent Residence (PR) in the USA

The Green Card, also known as the Permanent Resident card, grants official immigration status in the country, along with specific rights and responsibilities. It is a mandatory step if you aspire to become a citizen of the USA.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Determine your eligibility: You can obtain a Green Card through employment, family sponsorship, asylee/refugee status, special immigrant programs, other eligible categories, or a registry.
  • File Form I-485: Complete the application for registering permanent residence or adjusting status (Form I-485) through the official USCIS portal. Submit all required documents along with the application.
  • USCIS processing and review: USCIS will process and review your visa application before scheduling an interview appointment.
  • Attend the interview and provide honest and precise answers to the immigration officer's questions.
  • Visa approval and issuance: If your visa application is approved, you will be issued a valid Green Card, typically valid for ten years. If you have a conditional Green Card issued for two years, you may convert it into a ten-year card through a process called removal of conditions on residency.
  • Renew or replace the Green Card: You can renew or replace it using Form I-90 if it expires within six months or has already expired.

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Obtaining USA Citizenship:

You can become a citizen of the USA through a process called naturalisation. This procedure allows individuals who pledge allegiance to the country to become citizens. Here are the requirements for attaining citizenship:

  • Permanent residency duration: You should have held a Green Card or permanent resident status for a minimum of five years (or three years if you are the spouse of a US citizen).
  • Renew Green Card: If your Green Card will expire within six months or has already expired, you should renew it before applying for citizenship. You can still apply for naturalisation while waiting for the new Green Card by providing the receipt for Form I-90.
  • Eligibility criteria: Meet specific eligibility criteria outlined on the USCIS portal. The minimum age for applying is 18 years. Applicants should be able to speak, read, and write English, possess good moral character, and complete a ten-stage naturalisation process. This includes determining eligibility for American citizenship, completing the N-400 application form, and creating a free account for online submission.
  • Naturalisation test and interview: Applicants must pass the US Naturalization Test and attend an interview as part of the naturalisation process.

Upon successful naturalisation, you will receive certificates of naturalisation and citizenship. When a parent naturalises, their children below 18 years of age living with the parent may automatically acquire derived citizenship if they hold permanent resident status. Children who obtain citizenship through derivation are not required to participate in the naturalisation ceremony.

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