After months or years of waiting, you’ve finally received your immigrant visa. Now what?
Immigrating to the United States
Once you receive your immigrant visa, you’ll be able to immigrate to the United States. You should keep in mind that you’ll only have a limited amount of time to immigrate. You should make sure that you make arrangements to move before your visa expires. You’ll also need to keep the immigrant visa package that the embassy gives you in a safe place, making sure that no one opens it.
You’ll need to present the unopened immigrant visa package to the immigration officer when you arrive in the United States. Assuming that everything is in order, they’ll stamp your passport to show that you are a permanent resident. Your green card should arrive in the mail a couple of weeks after you arrive.
After you arrive in the United States
Once you receive your green card in the mail, you should inspect it to make sure that everything on it is correct. Any errors should be corrected as soon as possible.
If you have been married for less than two years and your green card is based on your marriage, you will receive a conditional green card and will need to apply to remove the conditions on your green card in two years. If your green card is based on your marriage to an United States citizen, in three years you will be able to submit a naturalization application to become a United States citizen. If your green card is based on a different type of family relationship, in five years you will be able to submit a naturalization application to become a United States citizen.
It is very important to review the qualifications for citizenship before submitting a naturalization application. If you submit a naturalization application when you don’t qualify for citizenship, you risk losing your application fee and possibly being deported.
WARNING: permanent resident status isn’t always permanent
Once you become a permanent resident, you should keep in mind that it is possible to lose your status as a permanent resident. For example, if you remain outside the United States for too long, you could lose your green card due to abandonment.
In addition, you can lose your status as a permanent resident as the result of certain criminal convictions. If you ever face criminal charges, you should consult with an immigration lawyer as soon as possible so that you can get advice on the possible immigration consequences of any potential conviction.
Other acts, such as false claims to United States citizenship or unlawful voting could also place your green card at risk. You should make sure that you learn as much as possible about your permanent resident status and how you can lose your green card before you run into immigration trouble.