Green Card

A green card allows an individual born in a foreign country to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. A green card is officially called a "lawful permanent residence" (LPR) card. To be eligible for a green card in the United States, a person must be eligible under one of eight different categories.

Luis F. Hess, an immigration attorney in The Woodlands, TX, can help you apply for a green card. The first step is determining whether you are eligible for a green card and which type of green card category you should apply for based on your circumstances. Green card eligibility may be based on the following categories:

  • An applicant's relationship with U.S. citizen family member;
  • An applicant's employment;
  • An applicant's status as a skilled worker or other special professional;
  • An applicant's membership in certain employment categories, including religious worker and international media members;
  • An applicant's former grant of asylum or refugee status;
  • An applicant's former award of a visa due to an individual's identity as a human trafficking victim or a crime victim; and
  • An applicant's identity as a victim of abuse, according to certain standards.

Each green card eligibility category has a different set of requirements that an applicant must meet to qualify.

Attorney for Green Card Applications in The Woodland, TX

Applying for lawful permanent residence in the United States involves a long and tedious application process. An experienced immigration attorney in The Woodlands, TX, can make sure the process of applying for a green card goes smoothly. Luis F. Hess also helps clients remove conditions or renew their green card.

Attorney Luis F. Hess speaks both English and Spanish. He can help individuals complete family-based, marriage-based and employment-based green card applications. His office is located Shenandoah, Texas, just north of The Woodlands in Montgomery County, TX. He represents clients throughout the surrounding areas from Conroe to Houston.

If you or someone you know needs a green card to live, work or stay in the United States, then seek out the services of an experienced immigration attorney in The Woodlands, just north of Houston, TX.

Call (281) 205-8540 to schedule a consultation.


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Overview of the Green Card Process


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The Green Card Application Process

While the process to obtain a green card will vary based on each individual's circumstances and under what category he or she is applying, the overarching process is essentially the same.

First, someone who is already an LPR or a U.S. citizen must file an immigrant petition on a family member's behalf as a sponsor. Next, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve the sponsor's petition. If the LPR beneficiary is eligible for a visa in his or her category, then the LPR beneficiary must file a green card application.

Lastly, the LPR beneficiary must submit biometrics, including fingerprints, photos, and a signature. The applicant will be required to attend an interview as well.


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Obtaining a Green Card in Houston Based on Family Ties

Both U.S. citizens and other green card holders may sponsor family members to become lawful permanent residents. The status of the person who is the sponsor and the relationship that such sponsor has to a potential green card candidate will determine how long it will take to obtain a green card. Preference categories are created based on these relationships.

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens have the shortest wait-time for green cards. "Immediate relative" is defined as:

  • the spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  • unmarried children under the age of 21; and
  • a parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

The unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, who are 21 years of age or older, are eligible under the first preference category.

Spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents are in the first tier of the second preference category. To be eligible for the first tier of the second preference category, the children must be under 21 years old. The second-tier of the second preference category consists of the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents who are over 21.

The third preference category consists of the married children of U.S. citizens. The fourth and final preference category consists of brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older.


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Green Card Based on a Marriage

Following marriage to a United States citizen, a non-citizen can apply to become a lawful permanent resident on a conditional basis. Under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1186a(c)(1)(A) and (B), the non-citizen and the U.S. citizen spouse can remove the conditional nature of the permanent resident status by jointly filing an application to remove the conditions of residence.

If the parties divorce, however, then the non-citizen will be unable to satisfy the joint filing requirement. In these cases, the non-citizen can file a petition to waive the joint filing requirement, under 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(4) and 8 C.F.R. § 1216.5. These statutes allow an alien who cannot satisfy the joint filing requirement to, nonetheless, avoid removal if certain marital conditions are met.

If that petition is denied, the non-citizen may be placed in removal proceedings. The non-citizen can renew the request for a waiver by relying on the regulation addressing such waivers. Two of these regulations addressing the waiver requires a showing that the non-citizen entered into the marriage in good faith, 8 C.F.R. §§ 1216.5(a)(1)(ii)–(iii). Another type of waiver requires a showing that the removal would result in extreme hardship, 8 C.F.R. § 1216.5(a)(1)(i).

Many of these issues involving the removal of the non-citizen to their home country are decided by an Immigration Judge (“IJ”).


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Waivers Based on Entering a Marriage in Good Faith

To establish that a person entered into a marriage in good faith, an alien must demonstrate an intention to establish a life with the spouse that existed at the time of marriage. When making this determination under 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(4), the Secretary of Homeland Security is to “consider any credible evidence relevant to the application.” 

Congress assigned to the immigration authorities the responsibility of determining the credibility of the testimony taken at the hearing. The immigration judge will then consider the demeanor, honesty, or responsiveness of the witness, the plausibility of the account, the consistency of the evidence, and any inaccuracies or falsehoods in the statements.


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Waivers Based on Extreme Hardship

Another basis for a waiver is that the applicant would suffer extreme hardship if he or she were to be removed from the United States. Under these circumstances, the applicant will argue that the court should grant a waiver under 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(4)(A). The regulation governing extreme hardship in immigration cases contains two dictates.

First, the Secretary “shall” consider only the circumstances that arose during the time period of the applicant's conditional residence in the United States. Second, the Secretary “shall” likewise “bear in mind” that all removals result in some hardship, and the waiver should only be granted for the subset where the hardship is extreme.

Removal necessarily involves some hardship, so an applicant must demonstrate a hardship that goes beyond those normally attendant to removal as explained in § 1216.5(e)(1). Additionally, the extreme hardship must be due to conditions arising during the applicant's time as a conditional permanent resident.


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Obtaining a Green Card Based on Employment in Texas

Known as the “land of opportunity,” the United States has, historically, been a place where individuals move to for employment opportunities. Unless an individual already has a job offer when he or she intends to immigrant, obtaining a green card for work can be difficult.

Some immigrant work categories require the employer to certify to the Department of Labor that there are not enough willing, qualified, and available U.S. workers in the area to fulfill their job requirements and that no American workers will be displaced by the immigrant workers brought in for the job.

The most common ways to immigrate to the U.S. based on employment include the following:

  • Obtain a green card through a job offer;
  • Obtain a green card based on extraordinary ability; and
  • Obtain a green card through a specialized job.

Attorney Luis F. Hess works with employers and their employees to help them with employment-based immigration issues from his offices in Shenandoah, TX, just north of The Woodlands.


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Renewing Your 10-Year Green Card

An attorney can help you renew your Green Card if you are a permanent resident, your card is valid for ten years, and is either considered expired or will expire within the next six months. An experienced attorney can help you complete an application to replace a permanent resident card.

If you received a letter that your application to renew your green card was denied, then contact an attorney to file a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider so that the USCIS office can reexamine or reconsider its decision.

In the motion to reopen, the attorney will state the new facts that can be provided if the case is reopened along with the appropriate documentary evidence. An attorney might also file a motion to reconsider when the to decision to deny your application was based on incorrect application of law or immigration policy, and further establish that the decision was wrong based on the evidence in the file at the time the decision was made.


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Removing the Conditions on a 2 Year Green Card

Luis F. Hess also helps conditional permanent residents remove conditions on their 2-year green card so that the person does not lose his or her permanent resident status. In those cases, the conditional permanent resident must file the appropriate paperwork to remove those conditions during the 90 days before the card expires.

Ninety (90) days before the card expires, a family-based conditional permanent resident must file a petition to remove the conditions of residence. Likewise, an investor/entrepreneur-based conditional permanent resident must file a petition for an entrepreneur to remove conditions, during the 90-day period before the card expires.


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Additional Resources

Green Card Processes & Procedures - Visit the Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security to find the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for a plethora of information on green card eligibility, how to file, concurrent filing, and other useful information to make the green card application process as painless as possible.

The National Visa Center - Visit the website of the National Visa Center to find out more information on the proper procedures for obtaining a visa, the status of your visa, and how to ensure that all fees and forms have been paid and completed.


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Find a Green Card Lawyer in Montgomery County, TX

Luis F. Hess is an experienced immigration attorney. He speaks Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and English and he has published multiple scholarly works, including a publication on immigration compliance.

An experienced immigration attorney will strive to provide his or her clients with the best possible understanding of immigration law. Attorney Luis F. Hess does just that. He uses his legal skills to provide personalized legal experience to aid clients in achieving both their employment and familial immigration goals. As a lawyer who is experienced in both 

As a lawyer who is experienced in both family-based green card immigration law and employer-based green card immigration law, Luis F. Hess is a dedicated counselor who will put his experience to work for you.

Call (281) 205-8540 to speak with an experienced Texas immigration attorney with offices in Shenandoah, TX, just north of The Woodlands in Montgomery County, Texas.


This article was last updated on Friday, January 26, 2018.

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