The Road to Citizenship: Obtaining a Green Card or Permanent Citizenship

The road to citizenship is not the same for everybody. It may vary depending on whether the applicant is married to a U.S. citizen, is in the military, has family in the military, or is seeking citizenship through their parents.

A common misconception with the process of immigration is that someone can just sign up, take the test, and then become a citizen—as simple as that. The reality, though, is that after the first stage—obtaining a Green Card, it can take another five years until citizenship is granted.

A Green Card permits an individual to be considered a permanent resident of the U.S. while still technically maintaining citizenship of their home country. The applicant would also need a family member or employee to act as their petitioner.

The steps to obtaining a Green Card are as follows:

•  File for the I-485 Application: This is the application to adjust the status of an individual to that of permanent residente

•  Await update on the application: 2–3 weeks: At this point, the application can be moved forward or denied, or alternatively, the applicant can be requested to provide more information, which can delay the whole process. If your application is accepted, you will be informed that you are officially applying for the Green Card.

•  Background Check and Biometrics: 5–8 weeks: A background check must be completed for everyone applying for citizenship. This is primarily to verify that you are who you say you are and that you have a clean record. If you believe that a prior incident may show up on your background check, now would be an especially good time to reach out to our immigration lawyers.

•  Receive Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or Work Permit: If you also submitted a form to be allowed to work in the country 12–16 weeks into the process, you should receive the physical EAD card. For this, you may have had to apply with an additional form.

•  Notice of Interview and the Interview: The interview is standard for everyone seeking citizenship. It gives the immigration officer the chance to verify the information in your application and make sure everything is correct. You may also be asked for more documents, so be prepared with any information that you may have already submitted.

•  Obtain Permanent Residence: If all goes well, at this point, you will be granted permanent residence!

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the process in Reno may currently take an estimated 7.5 to 18 months until completion; however, this number changes monthly. Along the way, there can always be stumbling blocks or moments where guidance, clarification, or re-assurance is needed. If you run into any of these, Joey Gilbert Law is in your corner!