When looking for green card information, it can be difficult to know what’s valuable and what isn’t. There are a number of sources available on the Internet, but the credible ones can be hard to tell apart from the fakes. So, what can you do?

Where can you find reliable green card information? And how do you even learn what questions to ask?

To help get you started, we will address the top two points you should keep in mind. Please be aware that this green card information is no substitute for consultation with a qualified immigration attorney. However, the more green card information you have before your initial consultation, the more efficiently you will be able to use your time.

1. Avoid Anyone Who Promises Something Will Be “Easy”

Terms like easy and fast are seldom associated with US immigration paperwork. In fact, many green card applicants wait a decade or more. However, there are always exceptions. But as with anything, the exceptions should not be considered the rule.

Many sites promise fast or easy green card access. The fact of the matter is the US has never made it more difficult for someone from another country to live and work here. Part of it has to do with the current political climate and the threat of terrorist activities. Another part of it has to do simply with the bandwidth of the US immigration services offices. And the third part has to do with the sheer complexity of the process itself.

2. Determine Whether You Might Qualify

There are a variety of ways someone can be eligible for a green card. These are generally called “immigrant visa preference categories.” US laws outline specific categories into which they slot immigrants. Depending on the category you fall into, you might have a shorter (or longer) processing time. This is partly because some categories are highly desirable; some are difficult to qualify for, and some are nearly impossible.

So, what goes into this categorization? And how do they work? Each class is allocated a specific number of individuals who are allowed to immigrate to the US under its standards each year. The lower the number of people who currently qualify, the better your chances are to get a slot…but only if you meet the requirements.

To get a better understanding of green card information and where the immigrant visa number stands, you can look to the visa bulletin. This is a regular report put out by the US Department of State and publishes the most up-to-date availability of immigrant visa numbers.

3. Understand Visa Categories

The categories are broken down into three main sections—family sponsored, employment-based, and diversity immigrant. Here’s what each of these categories means:

• Family-Sponsored or Family-Based: In the family category, this will include your first, second, third and fourth tiers. These are relatives of a US citizen looking to qualify based on their relationship. However, the section does not include spouses of US citizens, children of US citizens, or the parents of US citizens. That’s because under our current immigration law, your immediate relatives are already eligible for immigrant visa numbers.

• Employment-Based: Tiers here are similar to the family-based category above. They are broken down into specific immigrant visa categories and include cutoff dates for application. The main difference is that it’s a corporation or business sponsoring a foreign national for green card eligibility. As a general rule, the people who qualify have highly advanced degrees, rare skill sets, or both. There are a few exceptions so be sure to ask your attorney if you are eligible.

• Diversity Visas: Diversity visas, sometimes called lottery green cards, are a pool of 55,000 immigrant visas primarily for foreign countries with low numbers of permanent residence applications. There are minimal educational standards, and you cannot have previously committed a crime, but the requirements are much less than other categories. However, your odds of being drawn are dependent solely on luck. And if your country already has a high number of permanent resident applications you’re ineligible to apply.

4. Don’t Forget the Marriage-Based and Family Green Cards

These green cards are reserved for immediate relatives of US citizens. US immigration law allows citizens to petition the state to allow relatives to live with them permanently in the US. Immediate relatives tend to have immigration priority and are not required to wait for a visa number to become available. However, you will still have to apply and fill out a significant amount of paperwork in addition to undergoing background checks, health screens, fingerprinting, and immigration interviews.

In Need of Immigration Help or Green Card Information?

Contact the Lee & Peynado Law Firm now for more green card information and to schedule a free consultation.