What to Do While Your Green Card Application is Pending
It can take months for your green card petition to get approved. Knowing what you can and can’t do during that time is vital. You also need to know what you must do in order to avoid jeopardizing your green card application.
While you should always consult directly with an immigration lawyer before taking any major steps in your case, this general advice will give you a broad overview of what those long months of waiting should look like.
File Form I-765
If you aren’t already authorized to work in the United States on another visa type then it is time to file Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization. This form allows you to secure employment in the United States.
If you already have a job offer, your potential employer can also request the appropriate visa change.
Be careful about changing employers if your employer happens to be your green card sponsor. Failing to keep working for your employer sponsor could mean they withdraw their sponsorship and could lead to a denial of your I-485. The American Competitiveness of the Twenty-First Century Act does allow certain visa classes to switch employers, but you must follow special “portability” rules when you do. Consult with our office for more information.
Stay on Top of Address Changes
Moving house? You have just 10 days to update USCIS after moving to your new address. Forwarding your address with the US postal service does not count.
Instead, you must either use your USCIS online account to change your address, or you must file Form AR-11, which will change your address on all pending applications of any kind.
Pay Attention to Travel Requirements
You aren’t really supposed to travel outside the borders of the United States while awaiting approval. If you have some manner of emergency you can apply for Advance Parole with Form I-131. If approved, you can leave the country without jeopardizing your green card approval, as long as you don’t stay away too long.
If you have the urge to travel in order to simply get away, this is a good time to explore the awesome locations available throughout the United States. There’s something for everyone and plenty of beauty to explore.
If you leave without filing for advance parole, your green card application will be marked as “abandoned.” You won’t necessarily lose the right to apply for a green card forever, but you’ll have to start the whole process over again from scratch.
Stay Out of Trouble
Any criminal charges could render you ineligible for a green card, even if they are very minor. In reality, you don’t even want to get a traffic ticket while waiting for your green card while you can help it.
Even a dismissed or dropped case can cause trouble. If you think an activity or interaction could lead to a problem with the police, avoid it. And remember, while marijuana is legal in certain states, it isn’t legal at the federal level yet. Since you’re dealing with federal employers, marijuana in the United States is always a bad idea.
Stay Off Social Media
Immigration officials can and do check your social media accounts, and they use what they find against you. Certain political views, activities, and associations can threaten your green card application.
You can’t help what’s already out there but avoid adding anything new.
Check Status Updates
You can check your status on your USCIS “Case Status Online” tracker, or, if you are outside the United States, on the Consular Electronic Application Center. You will need your Receipt Number if within the states and your Immigrant Visa Case number outside the United States.
You will also receive mailed notifications from USCIS.
Stay in Touch with Your Immigration Lawyer
Ideally, by the time you’re waiting for a green card application, you’ve already selected an immigration lawyer and have been working closely with them. If this isn’t the case and you need to take any major steps prior to approval, then you need to select one and begin communicating with one until the process is complete.
Need help? Contact our office for a consultation.
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