Green cards are granted to permanent residents. You have to meet strict criteria to obtain a card which allows you to live and work in the United States, and they are highly valued.
It was, therefore, disturbing to read a recent report that detailed how large numbers of cards are being sent to the wrong addresses. Although new electronic systems were put in place in 2012, the problem appears to be getting worse.
Findings from the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Homeland Security revealed the number of green cards that are going to the wrong places increased since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) installed its Electronic Immigration System four years ago.
Alarmingly, the report said there is “no accurate means” of identifying exactly how many cards were sent to incorrect addresses after they were processed through the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS). Limitations in the system meant operators were unable to update addresses, even when green card holders requested an address change.
Applying for a green card can be a tortuous and nerve-wracking process. Automation was meant to improve the system but the audit published on March 9 this year found the new system “remains ineffective.” The notion that your permanent resident card may be sent to the wrong address, adds another layer of uncertainty.
How to Apply for Green Cards
The four main ways of applying to obtain a green card are set out by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They are:
1 Family Based
Immediate relatives who include parents of a U.S. citizen, spouses and unmarried children of a U.S. citizen under 21-years-old do not have to wait for a visa to become available. There are also categories of “qualified relatives” who have to wait for a visa to become available.
2 Employment or Job Based
If you are seeking permanent residency based on a job offer you have received, you can apply for a green card or an immigrant visa abroad, when an immigrant visa number is available. It’s based on a preference system.
3 Refugee or Asylum Status
A refugee or the qualifying spouse or child of a refugee is required to apply for a green card, a year after entering the United States. If you were granted asylum or are a qualified child or spouse of someone who was granted asylum, you are not required to apply for a green card after a year but have the ability to do so, and it may be in your best interests to do so.
Although these are the three main routes to obtaining a green card, CIS sets out other ways. If you have entered the USA without documentation, we highlight here how consular process could be available for you.
If you are considering applying for a green card or are experiencing difficulties with the process, our experienced Austin family immigration attorneys can advise and help you. Contact us at (512) 474-4445 or view our immigration resources here.