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Permanent residency eligibility

Georgia immigrants may be unaware of what the eligibility requirements for permanent residency are. According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, an individual who is seeking permanent residency in the U.S. must qualify for an immigration category, must have an immigrant petition approved, must have an immigrant visa available and must be considered admissible by the USCIS.

The two primary categories used by immigrants to become U.S. citizens are family-based and employment-based. These immigration categories are ordered by preference.

In order of most preferential to least preferential, the family-based immigration categories are unmarried offspring of U.S. citizens; spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents; married offspring of U.S. citizens along with their spouses and minor children; and the siblings of the U.S. citizens along with their spouses and offspring. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes minor children, spouses and parents, do not have to wait for a visa to become available. In order of most preferential to least preferential, the work-based immigration categories are immigrants with exceptional abilities including leading researchers, international executives and professors; those holding an advanced degree; skilled workers and professionals; those immigrants in religious occupations; and investors and entrepreneurs.

Most individuals will need an immigrant petition filed for them. Generally, the appropriate form will need to be filed either by a family member or an employer. In some cases, however, an immigrant may be able to petition for themselves.

To get a visa, an immigrant must wait for one to become available. Visas become available based on an individual's filing date, preference category and country of origin. A form I-485 should be filled out when a visa does become available.

There are various reasons that the USCIS may consider an immigrant inadmissible to the U.S. These reasons could based upon the individual's health status, criminal background or possible security-related reasons.

Applying for a green card can be a complex process. An attorney who is experienced in immigration and naturalization law may be able to help ensure the immigrant has all the appropriate documentation in place.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Green Card Eligibility", November 06, 2014

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