With the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement creating very strict rules to limit the flow of immigrants in the United States, a lot of people are now wondering if it is possible to apply for a green card while you are in the country? And if so, what are the procedures?
US vs. abroad
There are two ways that you can apply for a green card, you can apply while you are in the US or you can apply while you are in your home country.
If you are in the United States, applying for a green card means you are adjusting your status to that of a permanent resident. You can submit Form 1-485 to US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. This procedure is called "Adjustment of Status".
If you are abroad, you can apply for an immigrant visa from your local US Embassy. If you have already been lawfully admitted to the US, both options may be available to you.
Work while you wait
Those who are already present in the United States prefer to apply from within the country. It removes the need for family members to separate and it also allows the applicant to get an Employment Authorization Document or EAD, also known as a work permit, to use while their case is still being processed.
The eligibility criteria can be read in Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Applying abroad Green card applications that are filed within the country may take several months to process. It is actually faster to apply from your local US Embassy in your home country.
If you apply from abroad, it would not take longer than a few months for it to be submitted to the Department of State's National Visa Center.
You will then be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. You will get your immigrant visa in just a few days as long as there are no grounds of inadmissibility.
When you are applying for adjustment of status in an employment-based case, an interview is not required. But a personal appearance is always required at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad. The interview usually lasts for a whole day.
Medical examination will also be conducted. Sometimes, people are required to travel to the embassy on short notice. If you apply from abroad, you will need to submit additional documents including police clearances for every country where you have lived since you were 16 and you will also need to submit military service records. You do not need to submit these documents if you apply within the US.
If you are eligible to apply for your green card from within the country, then you have a lot to consider. There are some really good reasons to apply from within the US because you can work and remain with your family while you wait to become a permanent resident. If you do not have any family in the US, then you can apply in your home country as the process is faster.