No matter where you are in the United States, the process should be pretty similar. The most significant difference in how to get a green card in California is what paperwork your petitioner will need to fill out, depending on how you are eligible for a green card.

If you are applying through your family, your immediate family member will need to file Form I-130 along with any relevant documentation. If you are obtaining a green card via your employer, they will need to fill out and submit Form I-140 and the necessary paperwork. If you return to the U.S. after your green card has expired, you will need to apply via your local U.S. embassy or consulate. Once there, you will need to prove why you couldn’t return to the U.S. and confirm that you tried to return to the U.S. before your green card expired.

If you are considering making the United States your home, one of the first things you must consider is how to get a green card. You may wonder how green cards work, or is a permanent resident card a green card? Rest assured, there are a variety of ways to get a green card.

Learn More About Green Cards

First, we should clarify what we mean by a green card. Many people get confused as sometimes documents and articles will refer to a permanent resident card as well as a “green card”. A green card is the same thing as a permanent resident card. A green card gives a person Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, enabling you to live and work in the United States legally.

There are typically four main ways to get a green card:

  • Marriage-based green card – This requires you to have a spouse that is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. If your fiancé is a U.S. citizen or resident, they can also petition on your behalf using a K-1 visa.
  • Employment-based green card – Like a marriage-based green card, an employment-based green card will require a U.S. company to petition on your behalf. Many people try to use this route to gain U.S. citizenship, so competition for these jobs can be robust.
  • Family-based green card – Perhaps the most common way to gain a green card, this method requires an immediate family member to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Returning resident green card is specifically for people who have previously obtained LPR status, but it has expired due to the person leaving to live and work abroad.

If you’re interested in learning more about the different ways to get a green card and want some professional guidance and advice, contact Leiva Law Firm. Leiva Law Firm is a boutique firm based in San Francisco specializing in U.S. immigration and nationality laws for local and international clients. Contact us today to discuss your specific immigration questions and concerns!