When you attend your green card biometrics appointment, an authorized representative will take your picture, scan your fingerprints, and verify your signature. The process is fairly quick, with most applicants in and out in about a half hour. After completing the biometrics appointment, there are 5 additional steps in the green card application process:
- Receive your EAD and/or advance parole travel document
- Respond to any Requests for Evidence
- Complete the green card interview
- Receive a Notice of Decision
- Receive your green card
The EAD and Advance Parole Travel Document
This step only applies to immigrants who request a work permit and/or advance parole travel document with their green card application. Not all green card applicants need these, so if you did not request one you can skip this step.
Immigrants who want to work in the United States while their green card application is pending can request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. In most cases, green card applicants will file Form I-765 concurrently with their green card application for faster processing. Assuming you filed these forms at the same time, you should receive your EAD within 3 – 4 months of filing.
Immigrants who need to travel internationally while their green card application is pending (a practice that is generally best to avoid, but sometimes necessary) can request advance parole with Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. If you file Form I-131 concurrently with Form I-765, your EAD will include the appropriate authorization to serve as an advance parole travel document. If you didn’t request an EAD, you’ll receive a separate advance parole travel document in the same timeframe (3 – 4 months after filing).
Requests for Evidence
USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) if the adjudicator over your case determines that any documents are missing, or if he or she needs additional evidence to determine your eligibility for immigration benefits. If you receive an RFE you should take it very seriously, but there’s no need to panic. It doesn’t mean your case is on the chopping block—it simply means the adjudicator needs more information in order to issue a decision. All you need to do is respond to the RFE with the requested documentation in a timely manner.
When you respond to an RFE, there’s no limit on the amount of evidence that you can submit to USCIS. In fact, you’re not limited to evidence pertaining to the RFE, either. If you have any additional documentation that may strengthen your case, now is the time to submit these for review. Just be sure to include a cover letter with your RFE response and explain what documents are included and why you believe they are important to your case.
If you are concerned that the language in the RFE indicates that the adjudicator is currently inclined to deny your case, you should speak with an immigration attorney before sending your response. The attorney can review your original application and supporting evidence, identify any problem areas, and help you collect and submit additional evidence to fill the holes in your case.
The Green Card Interview
When the USCIS adjudicator completes their review and tentatively approves your case, you will receive a notice to schedule a green card interview. These interviews are typically handled in the local USCIS field office, unless you are overseas, in which case your interview would be with a consular officer at the US Embassy or consulate.
You’ll want to be well prepared for this interview. Make a copy of your application for your reference, as the interviewer will reference this in the interview. Also, bring original copies of any documents that you have submitted to USCIS (birth certificate, passport, etc.). If you are concerned about the interview itself, you can meet with an immigration attorney to discuss questions and prepare a strategy.
Notice of Decision
The USCIS officer who interviews you should be able to tell you if your application is approved at the conclusion of the interview, but this doesn’t always happen. Your application may need supervisor approval, the officer could refer the case back to the adjudicator to request and review additional evidence, or it could simply take some time for USCIS to finish processing the application. In any case, you will receive a Notice of Approval in the mail when your application is officially approved.
If the USCIS officer approves your case on-site, the officer should stamp your passport with an I-551 to prove that you are now a lawful permanent resident. This is an important step, as it may be several weeks or months until you receive your green card in the mail. At the same time, don’t shred your EAD and/or advance parole document just yet. Technically the I-551 stamp replaces these documents, but in the rare case where something is wrong with your green card or the stamp, you’ll want to keep the EAD and/or advance parole travel document safe for now.
Receiving Your Green Card
You should receive a green card welcome packet in the mail within 30 days of your approval. This packet provides a wealth of important information that will help you better understand the federal government’s operations and assimilate into American culture. It also provides information on the steps you should take after receiving your green card, such as obtaining a driver’s license.
Once you receive the welcome packet from USCIS, you should receive your green card in the next 30 days. When it arrives, check the card for any errors. Assuming everything is correct and in order, you may now shred your EAD and/or advance parole travel document.
If you do not receive your green card within 60 days of receiving the Notice of Approval, or if you receive the green card but there is an error, call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Based on the contact center’s instructions, you may need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card. There is a $455 filing fee for this petition, but the fee is waived if the processing error was USCIS’s fault.
Receive Help With a Green Card Application in Arizona
Whatever stage you and your family are currently in, if you live in Arizona, JacksonWhite law can help. Our immigration team, lead by immigration attorney Pace Rawlins, have dedicated themselves to helping Arizona families with their immigration needs by providing a wide array of immigration services, including green card applications.
Call our Immigration team at(480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.