APPLYING FOR A PERMANENT RESIDENCE
If you’re applying for a Permanent Residence Card, you are in fact applying for a Green Card. To do so, that is, to qualify for permanent residence, you must first check whether you are eligible under one of the acceptable categories as listed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
The ways that you could apply for a Green Card could be through a relative who is a U.S. citizen, through employment, applying under the status of a special immigrant/refugee/asylee and several other routes. There is also the option of participating in the DV Lottery
A Permanent Residency card indicates that one is legally and permanently residing in a country and specifically to the U.S., can live and work there. It should also be noted, the having a Green Card brings you one step further to becoming an American .
PERMANENT RESIDENT VS CITIZEN
People often misuse these two terms – though they mean very different things. While it is true that both grant the right to live and work in the U.S., one should know how they differ. For instance, not every citizen is necessarily a permanent resident and vice versa. Permanent Residency indicates that a person lives in a country, but they may have a citizenship of a different country.
In the U.S. there are limitations as to the rights that permanent residences have. For instance, a permanent resident cannot vote. Furthermore, you may lose your permanent residency if prosecuted – while it is very hard, or rather close to impossible, to lose your citizenship.
WHO CAN BECOME A US CITIZEN?
There are several circumstances under which a person can be a U.S. citizen. The first, naturally, is by being born in America. You can also become a U.S. citizen if your parents are or have been American citizens
If you are not any of the above, however, then you would have to go through a process known as naturalization. To become qualified for naturalization you must be over 18 years old and possess a Permanent Residency card (known as a Green Card) for at least 5 years. This period is substantially shorter if you are married to a U.S. citizen.
Once you’ve hit that 5-year mark, you can apply for citizenship, and based on your record (assuming you did not commit any felonies or have been arrested) and passing the U.S. history and government exam, you may accept citizenship and successfully complete your naturalization process. Of course, you may apply after the five-year mark has passed; in fact, anytime between the 5-year-mark and the 10-year-mark in which your Green Card expires
Country Of Origin Eligibility
This criterion applies to the country in which you were born. In other words, only natives from specific countries meet this requirement. This is the minimal requirement for qualifying to register to the Diversity Visa Lottery. Usually, the ineligible countries are such that have a “high-admission”.
If your country of origin is not listed, there are two other ways that may still be eligible:
- If your spouse is a native of one the listed countries. Assuming that you are applying together, your spouse could be the main applicant.
- If both of your parents are natives and were born in one of the eligible countries, despite your country of birth being ineligible.
Education and Work Eligibility
The second requirement refers to the education or work experience the applicant should have. This requirement is assessed through the submission of relevant documents. Similar to the first criterion, if you do not meet this requirement but your spouse does, they could be the main applicant. It should also be noted that only the principal applicant needs to meet this criterion.
To quality for this, you should have one of the two:
- A high school education, meaning, the completion of a formal course of studies which is equivalent to 12 years of basic elementary and high school education in the U.S.
- Two to five years of work experience in an occupation defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as such. These occupations often require a minimum of a two-year training or equivalent experience
One cannot submit a request if they do not meet at least one of these criteria. If you do not meet one of these requirements, you will have to consider completing your high school diploma or acquiring a course that is regarded as equivalent to 12 yeas of basic elementary.
Green Card Photo Requirements
After you have met the previous requirements, you will be asked to submit photos (sometimes of your spouse and children too). The requirements for this photo might overly complex, and if not done properly, might even cause disqualification. So, here is a list – make sure you check it twice!
- The background must be plain and bright – white is the best. No shadows.
- You must face the camera, with your face and head completely visible, comprising about 50% of the entire photo.
- Head coverings (hats, scarves and so on) are not permitted if they cover parts of your face.
- Glasses are not allowed – sunglasses and visual aids.
- The photo should have a minimum color depth of 24 bits.
- The photo cannot be in black and white.
- Digitally editing the photos according to one of these requirements or for any other reason, is prohibited.
WHERE TO LIVE IN THE US
America is a huge continent with 50 states and thousands of cities and towns. The best thing about it, is that there’s every possible option that you could possibly dream of. From a cold and icy climate in the north and all the way to the hot and tropical dessert, you can have your pick. Plus, you have the luxury to choose what type of lifestyle you’d like to have according to the area you live in.
For instance, are you looking for that urban big-city experience? Everyone knows America has some of the most impressive and dazzling metropolitan in the world. How about a suburban country life, with the front and backyard, and that small-town American charm? No problem, the US has gorgeously picturesque small cities and suburbs. What about nature? Well, America has plenty of that too. Lakes, rivers, natural reserves, woods, and endless forests – it’s all up to you and what kind of life you’d like to lead.
If you’re undecided, and we admit there are a lot of options, we invite you to consult one of our e-books that cover all these topics and more. From the best locations for family life, through household expenses, an all the way to choosing your ideal hometown in the US.
Once you arrive in the US, you will need to open a bank account. Now, banking is sometimes complicated even when you’re in your own country. So here how’s American Banks work. There are several types of banks you can choose from. There are commercial banks, that provides service to businesses (you can learn more about these in our Business Program-book), there are savings banks, where you can create savings accounts, there are savings and loans banks, and credit unions.
When you open your bank account you will have two types of accounts. One is known as a checking account and the other as a savings account. The checking account is where you’ll receive your paychecks, draw money, make purchases and pay your bills. Also, you will have a checkbook and a bank card for this account. In your savings account, you will deposit long-term funds, that will accumulate interest rates. Of course, these rates vary according to the bank you choose. Make sure that you choose your bank wisely and do your research!
You may have seen it in the movies or TV shows but American culture is very distinct. When you immigrate to the US, you have to be ready and be willing to accept what may seem as a very different culture. For instance, you might have to adjust to the weather, or to the customs, or even to the food. But remember, it’s all part of the experience. While you might choose to live among a community of immigrants from your country, it’s crucial that you are aware to the local culture.
For instance, American holidays are not so much religious as they are focused around family and culture. The biggest and most important and celebrated holidays are Christmas, the 4th of July (Independence Day), Halloween and Thanksgiving. Though the majority of the population in the US identifies as Christians, very few attend churches or practice their beliefs. They are, however, a rather patriotic nation – meaning that they tend to be more politically involved and aware of the political climate around them.
Of course, there are other aspects of American culture that you should be aware of, such as what are considered good manners, the appropriate way to greet new people, education, health system and so much more. But some of those things you’ll have to either read in one of our programs’ e-books or learn along the way – that’s simply part of the magic!
In the US, all children from the ages of 5-8 must attend school. Though some children are home-schooled by their parents or tutors, this must be reported. The first school, which children attend between the ages of 5-12 is known as primary school. Once completing their education at primary school, they move on to secondary school which is divided into two programs: middle school and then high school. Overall, to receive a diploma, children will have to attend school for 12 years in order to graduate.
After this, students usually go to college – which is referred to as higher education. College lasts between 3-4 years, depending on the chosen program. After this, college graduates might choose to continue to an advanced degree at the university. This depends on your grades – which are graded in the US by a system known as GPA. Your GPA determines whether you can enter a more advanced degree, whether you can enter a more prestigious institution. You can read more on this in our designated Student e-book, designed and created for immigrants wanting to study in the US.
After you’ve mapped the market and established a business plan, the next step would be to fund your business. Some people can afford to self-fund while others may look for investors, also known as venture capital. In some cases, depending on the type of your business and plan, you could combine a few of the elements together to ensure you have the sufficient funds you may need. Make sure that you take into account predicted expenses, incomes, services rendered, and services needed– all these are extremely crucial when starting a business in the USA.
Another thing you should consider is the location of your business. Even if you are running an online business, without any physical location, you would still have to choose where your business address might be. The structure in which you have your business would also affect the registration process and taxation since each business type is different, requires different authorizations and might have different legal obligations. There are many types of organizations, such as Sole proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Limited (LTD), C, S, B or Close Corporations, Nonprofit, Cooperative. Some might even be combined to form the exact structure you are looking for.
This all may sound extremely confusing, all the forms, procedures and whatnot, but luckily, we’ve gathered all this information in our thorough Business Program guidebook. You’ll not only find in the guide answers to all your questions, but also receive guidance and counseling on the many facts of starting your own business in the USA.
Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
HOW TO REGISTER A COMPANY
The registration process pends on the location in which you have chosen to open your business as every State had its own laws. You will also need to register your business with the federal government agencies to become a legal entity, a federal tax ID, trademark protection or tax exemption.
If your business is an LLC, corporation, partnership, or nonprofit corporation, you’ll need a registered agent in the state you have chosen, before filing to get your business registered there. The registered agent will receive the legal papers and documents on behalf of your company and must be present in the state you are registering in. We know this may all sound super confusing, but don’t worry, we cover all these issues in our unique business program.
Last but not least, if your business conducts activities in more than one country, you would need to file for a foreign qualification in the other states in which you will operate. Foreign qualified businesses need to pay taxes and annual report fees in both or all registered states. Many states require a Certificate of Good Standing form the state of formation, but that varies by state and business structure.
MOST POPULAR EXISTING AND POTENTIAL BUSINESSES
If you’re looking for a business idea or want to know which field is best to currently invest in, it seems that according to a research conducted in 2019, among the most successful and most popular businesses in the U.S. are Health Care businesses and Social Assistance. You can learn more about other ‘hot’ industries in our ‘how to start a business in the US’ guide.
But if you’re not looking into having a physical business, online services and information, web-based services and other hi-tech applications and startups, are your next best option. The online craze of recent years is online retail and distribution. With millions of buyers in the U.S., and even more worldwide, there is demand for online shopping and nationwide shipping, even globally – making this one of the safest investments for a new business owner. You can learn more about other ‘hot’ industries in our ‘how to start a business in the US’ guide.
If you’re planning on being a business owner and starting a business in the USA, you should know that there are some things that Americans feel strongly about when it comes to business. Many of the American ways of doing business has spread to the rest of the Western world in the last few decades and made the corporate world quite similar worldwide.
For instance, scheduling and keeping time is very important. When you schedule an appointment or meeting, you should make sure to arrive on time or even be a bit earlier. Lateness can be regarded as disrespectful or unprofessional. Americans like their small talks, even in business meetings, until it comes down to… business, depending on how serious the subject of the meeting is and its participants (a manger would not be as casual with a junior employee, but would be with other managers), this usually promotes openness. While they appreciate small talk, getting too personal too quick might be considered rude or strange. It is not out of the ordinary to have business meetings over lunch or dinner.
Most American negotiations state their intensions at the beginning, as to build from there or reach a middle ground – they usually expect the other side to do the same. It is also customary to exchange business cards, mostly at the end of the meeting, if there is a need for further contact or any questions on either side.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE ROAD AHEAD.
Immigrating is both an exciting and terrifying thing altogether. However, most people have attested that the most stressful thing about it is facing the unknown. Starting a process that can be confusing and complex at times, completely on their own and without knowing what lies ahead.
We at Relocate, believe that you should be aware and prepared for every step down the road. In fact, we not only believe in it, we live by it – which is why we’ve prepared a detailed immigration timeline, covering all the steps and stages of your immigration process. From the very application, through your approval and all the way to your flight to the USA. So, here’s what to expect when you’re expecting to immigrate to the USA.
The DV Lottery has existed for over 30 years and was founded to preserve the unique character and diversity of the US nation. The lottery offers 55,000 spots every year and tries to ration the number of immigrants coming in from each country. Since the concept was created to encourage and enforce America’s unique immigration policy, the application process is straightforward and the whole procedure – from the moment you apply and to the moment you receive your confirmation – doesn’t take longer than a year.
To apply, you will first have to make sure that you are eligible according to the first two basic criteria. The first is being a native of one of the eligible countries, and the second is having either a high-school diploma or relevant work experience. Of course, if you’re unsure whether you meet these criteria, don’t hesitate to contact us – one of our agents would be happy to assist.
Once you’ve confirmed that you may indeed apply, your next step is to register through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) Website. Did we mention the registration is completely free? So, now that we know you qualify to apply, let’s see what you’ll need to prepare in order to complete your application.
Now, for this part of the immigration process, you have to be extremely organized and well-prepared, because submitting your documents correctly could make all the difference between an approval or a rejection.
Once you’ve established that you are eligible to apply according to the two requirements previously mentioned, you will also be asked to prove these. That is, you will have to present a birth certificate or other form of confirmation that you were indeed born in an eligible country. Furthermore, you will have to confirm that you have a high-school diploma (or the equivalent in your country) and the relevant experience. Don’t worry, we cover these issues in all of our Relocate programs.
The next thing you’ll be asked to submit is a Green Card photo. Now, this may seem the easy part – but don’t be fooled. The Green Card Photo requirements are extremely specific and if not done precisely, your picture might even cause disqualification. Read here more on the Green Card Photo requirements.
Make sure that you’ve prepared all the documents according to the instructions. Sometimes, we encounter cases of applicants who have submitted faulty or incorrect documents and had to wait to reapply in the following year. With our close guidance, there’s no room for error.
Congratulations! You have received notice that your application has been selected in the DV Lottery! The application would have been processed for about 5 to 6 months and now you’ve been notified. What should you expect now?
If you are already in the USA (for instance if you’ve arrived with a different permit and decided to apply to the DV Lottery), you might be able to obtain a permanent residency while still in the US. Whether you are in your own country or in the States, there are a couple of more steps that you have to complete before receiving the much-coveted approval.
But don’t you worry, these steps are fairly simple and helping you get through them is exactly what we at Relocate are here to do. The most important thing is that now you’ve received your approval.
The approvals are sent via email and are accessed using the code you have received once you’ve submitted your initial application. By the way, make sure that you hold on to the code, as the department does not re-issue it, and cannot resend it. You will then see that your online status has also been changed. The final confirmation that you have indeed been selected will appear on the Electronic Diversity Visa website. Now, just follow the steps and complete them as soon as possible to maintain your eligibility.
This stage is extremely important for receiving your Green Card. Once you have the approval, you should schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you have previously selected on your application form (this of course changes according your country of residence).
Remember the confirmation code that you received earlier when you submitted your application? You will be using this code, known as the DV entry confirmation number, to check on the website the locations, dates, hours for your potential interview.
Once you found and booked your interview, you will need to print the confirmation page for your booking and keep it close by, you will be required to present it at your interview. If you’re worried about the interview itself, you should know that our programs are designed to prepare you and guide you through this process.
After this interview you will be notified by the counselor office whether your application has been approved and you can move on to the next and most exciting stage!!!
FLYING TO USA
Wonderful! Your application has been approved, you aced your interview, and now you’re on your way to live out your full American dream. If you’re traveling with your family, you probably have a lot of preparations. Good thing that we have a Family Program created especially for this situation.
Depending on the location you have selected, you will have to locate the nearest airport. The US is a huge country and you might need several flights to reach your chosen destination. We also recommend checking the local weather before you pack you’re on board backpack.
If you’re still unsure about where to live (now that the land of endless opportunities is open to you) our thorough E-books have got you covered. Or better yet, get in touch and we will help you with this final and most important step. With Relocated, you’re never alone!