Applications for permanent residence may be obtained though: approved petitions filed with Immigration by relatives or employers. Permanent residence may also be granted through various other methods, including, but not limited to Registry; approved VAWA petitions (the Violence Against Women Act – battered spouse). Residence may also be granted through NACARA, among other methods.
Permanent residence applications made with Immigration may also be made or renewed before the Immigration Court if the individual is already in proceedings. Also, certain other types of permanent residence applications may be initially made before the Immigration Judge. These are usually called applications for cancellation of removal and are not granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). If these applications for cancellation are granted by the Immigration Judge, the individual is also granted permanent residence.
Permanent Residence through Approved Petitions
Upon the approval of a relative petition or an employment-based petition, an individual has the right to apply for residence in the United States by adjustment of status within the United States or at a United States Embassy overseas.
See: Waiver-Unlawful Presence for an explanation of how certain individuals may avoid being required to remain outside the United States for an extended period when applying at the United States Consul.
Certain Other Methods of Applying for Permanent Residence
In the case of a VAWA petitions and approved NACARA applications, the individual may have the right to adjust status in the United States in most instances, without having to leave.
A Registry applicant for adjustment must show that they have resided continuously in the United States since January 1, 1972. This method of applying for residence requires that the individual prove that he or she has been a person of good moral character for the entire period that they have resided in the United States.
Some Basic Requirements for Qualifying for Permanent Residence
A lawful permanent resident is entitled to more than one residence, but United States residence must be his or her permanent residence. A lawful permanent resident may lose status as resident if he or she leaves the United States for an extended period without having prior permission from Immigration to stay outside of the United States for any extended period.
Generally, a lawful permanent resident must be a person of good moral character, with the exception of certain minor offenses which are considered “petty”, and must not be ineligible for citizenship. However, certain other offenses (except aggravated felonies), although they may make the individual deportable, removable or inadmissible, may be waived at the discretion of the USCIS or the Immigration Judge with the filing of a Waiver Application.
In the case of residence based on a relative petition, certain minimum income requirements apply to the sponsor – or any joint sponsor or co-sponsor.
Lawful permanent residents are subject to deportation or removal under certain conditions. If they are convicted of an “aggravated felony”- as defined by USCIS, they may be subject to deportation or removal. Please note carefully that an “aggravated felony” (as defined by USCIS) may even include certain types of misdemeanors.
Numerical limitations may apply to some individuals applying for residence. In other words, a visa may not be immediately available for the individual and he/she will be required to wait for the availability of a visa before residence can be granted.