How to Get a Green Card as a Nigerian Immigrant (2024)

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023 at 12:29 am

Discover the steps to obtaining a green card as a Nigerian immigrant and learn what you need to know before applying.

Getting a Green Card for Nigerian Immigrants

GETTING A GREEN CARD: A GUIDE FOR NIGERIAN IMMIGRANTS

If you are a Nigerian immigrant seeking to live and work in the United States permanently, you may be wondering how to obtain a Green Card. A Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, allows you to live and work in the U.S. permanently. There are several ways for Nigerians to obtain a Green Card, including through employment, family sponsorship, and the Diversity Visa Lottery.

One way to obtain a Green Card is through employment. If you have a job offer from a U.S. employer, they may be able to sponsor you for a Green Card. This process typically involves the employer filing a petition on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the petition is approved, you can then apply for a Green Card. Another option is to invest in a U.S. business and create jobs for U.S. workers, which may also make you eligible for a Green Card.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

To apply for a Green Card as a Nigerian immigrant, you must first ensure that you are eligible under one of the categories listed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These categories include Immediate Relatives, Family Preference, and Employment-Based.

IMMEDIATE RELATIVES

If you have an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card. Immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.

To apply, your U.S. citizen relative must file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) on your behalf. Once the petition is approved, you can apply for a Green Card by filing Form I-485.

FAMILY PREFERENCE

If you do not have an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen, you may still be eligible to apply for a Green Card under the Family Preference category. This category includes unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, spouses and unmarried children of Green Card holders, and married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

To apply, your U.S. citizen or Green Card holder relative must file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) on your behalf. Once the petition is approved, you will be placed in a visa category and must wait for a visa to become available before you can apply for a Green Card.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED

If you have a job offer from a U.S. employer, you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card under the Employment-Based category. This category includes individuals with extraordinary abilities, advanced degrees, and those in professions that require labor certification.

To apply, your employer must file an immigrant petition (Form I-140) on your behalf. Depending on the visa category, you may also need to obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor. Once the petition is approved, you can apply for a Green Card by filing Form I-485.

IMMIGRATION JOURNEY

As a Nigerian immigrant, your journey to obtaining a Green Card in the United States can be a lengthy and complex process. There are two main paths to obtaining a Green Card: consular processing and adjustment of status.

CONSULAR PROCESSING

If you are currently living outside of the United States, you will likely need to go through consular processing to obtain a Green Card. This process involves the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

First, you must have a family member or employer in the United States file an immigrant petition on your behalf. Once the petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing.

The NVC will then provide you with instructions on how to complete the necessary forms and submit the required documents, such as a medical exam and police clearance certificate. Once these steps are completed, you will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS

If you are already in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you may be eligible to adjust your status to obtain a Green Card. This process involves filing an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while you are in the United States.

To be eligible for adjustment of status, you must have a family member or employer in the United States file an immigrant petition on your behalf. Once the petition is approved, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS.

Along with the application, you will need to submit supporting documents, such as a medical exam and police clearance certificate. USCIS will then schedule you for a biometrics appointment and an interview at a USCIS field office.

It is important to note that the process for adjustment of status can take several months or even years, and it is important to maintain valid nonimmigrant status while your application is pending.

MARRIAGE-BASED GREEN CARD

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for a marriage-based green card. This type of green card is available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes spouses. Here are the steps you need to follow to apply for a marriage-based green card:

  1. File Form I-130: The first step in the process is to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is used to establish the relationship between you and your spouse and prove that you are eligible for a marriage-based green card. You will need to provide evidence of your marriage, such as a marriage certificate.
  2. Wait for Approval: Once your Form I-130 is approved, you will need to wait for a visa number to become available. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait for a visa number, so this step may be skipped in some cases.
  3. File Form I-485: After a visa number becomes available, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is used to apply for a green card. You will need to provide evidence of your eligibility for a green card, such as proof of financial support and a medical examination.
  4. Attend an Interview: After you file Form I-485, you will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer. During the interview, you will be asked questions about your marriage and eligibility for a green card.

If your application is approved, you will be issued a marriage-based green card. If you are outside of the United States, you will need to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

It is important to note that USCIS may investigate your marriage to ensure that it is legitimate. If USCIS determines that your marriage is fraudulent, your application will be denied and you may be subject to deportation.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED GREEN CARD

If you are a Nigerian immigrant seeking a green card through employment in the United States, there are several things you need to know. The U.S. immigration law offers different ways to become a lawful permanent resident through employment in the United States. In this section, we will discuss the employment-based green card and how you can obtain one.

To obtain an employment-based green card, your employer (petitioner) must file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, on your behalf. Your employer must be able to demonstrate a continuing ability to pay the offered wage as of the priority date. The priority date is the date your employer files the Form I-140 on your behalf.

There are different categories of employment-based green cards, and each has its own eligibility requirements. The categories include:

  • First Preference (E1): Priority Workers
  • Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
  • Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)

The eligibility requirements for each category are different, and you must meet the requirements for the category your employer files the Form I-140 under.

Once your employer files the Form I-140 on your behalf, you can file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The Form I-485 allows you to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident. You must include your Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, with your Form I-485 to save time.

In most cases, the following documents are necessary as part of the adjustment of status requirements:

  • I-485 Application to Adjust Status
  • I-693 Medical Report and Vaccinations
  • A copy of I-797 showing that the I-140 has been received and approved by USCIS.

It is important to note that the process of obtaining an employment-based green card can be lengthy and complicated. You may also need to obtain a work permit (Employment Authorization Document or EAD) to work in the U.S. temporarily while your green card application is being processed.

STUDENT VISA

If you are a Nigerian student looking to study in the United States, you will need to apply for a student visa. The most common type of student visa is the F visa. Here is what you need to know about the F visa:

F VISA

The F visa is for academic students who want to study in the United States. To be eligible for an F visa, you must be enrolled in an accredited educational institution in the US. You must also have a valid I-20 form from the institution you will be attending. Here are the steps to apply for an F visa:

  1. Pay the SEVIS fee – Before applying for an F visa, you must pay the SEVIS fee. This fee is paid online and is used to fund the SEVIS program, which tracks international students in the US.
  2. Complete the DS-160 form – The DS-160 form is the online application for a nonimmigrant visa. You will need to provide personal information, as well as information about your school and program of study.
  3. Schedule an interview – After submitting the DS-160 form, you will need to schedule an interview at the US embassy or consulate in Nigeria. The interview is used to determine if you are eligible for a student visa.
  4. Attend the interview – At the interview, you will need to provide documentation that proves you are a bona fide student, such as your I-20 form, transcripts, and test scores. You will also need to show that you have the financial means to support yourself while studying in the US.

Once your F visa is approved, you will be able to enter the US up to 30 days before your program start date. You will also be allowed to stay in the US for the duration of your program, plus an additional 60 days.

RENEWAL AND REPLACEMENT

If your Green Card is lost, stolen, or damaged, you must replace it immediately. You may also need to renew your Green Card if it has expired or will expire soon. Here are the steps you need to take:

REPLACEMENT

If your Green Card is lost, stolen, or damaged, you must replace it by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can file this form online or by mail. Keep in mind that you must replace your Green Card as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences, such as being unable to travel outside the United States or losing your job.

To file Form I-90 online, you must create a USCIS online account. This will allow you to submit evidence and pay fees electronically, receive case status updates, and see your complete case history. If you prefer to file by mail, you can download the form from the USCIS website and mail it to the appropriate address listed on the form.

RENEWAL

If your Green Card will expire within six months, you must renew it by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can file this form online or by mail. Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to renew your Green Card on time. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences, such as being unable to travel outside the United States or losing your job.

To file Form I-90 online, you must create a USCIS online account. This will allow you to submit evidence and pay fees electronically, receive case status updates, and see your complete case history. If you prefer to file by mail, you can download the form from the USCIS website and mail it to the appropriate address listed on the form.

FEES

The fees for renewing or replacing your Green Card are subject to change. As of March 2023, the filing fee for Form I-90 is $455, and the biometric services fee is $85. However, these fees may change in the future, so be sure to check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date fee information.

PROCESSING TIME

The processing time for renewing or replacing your Green Card can vary depending on the USCIS workload. As of 2023, the USCIS estimated processing time for Form I-90 is between 8.5 and 11 months. However, this estimate is subject to change, so be sure to check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date processing time information.

INTERVIEW PROCESS

Once your application is approved, you will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria. The interview is a crucial part of the green card application process, and it is essential that you prepare adequately for it.

During the interview, the consular officer will ask you questions about your background, your family, your work experience, and your reasons for wanting to immigrate to the United States. The purpose of the interview is to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements for a green card and to verify the information you provided in your application.

It is essential to be honest and straightforward during the interview. The consular officer will conduct a background check to verify your identity and ensure that you have not been involved in any criminal activity. If you have any criminal convictions or prior immigration violations, be prepared to provide an explanation and any relevant documentation.

It is also crucial to bring any supporting documents that were not included in your application. This may include letters of recommendation, proof of employment, or evidence of financial support. You should also bring a copy of your application and any other relevant documents.

After the interview, the consular officer will make a decision on your application. If approved, you will be issued a visa to enter the United States as a permanent resident. If denied, you will receive a letter explaining the reason for the denial and your options for appeal.

WORK VISAS

If you are a Nigerian immigrant looking to work in the United States, you will need a work visa. There are several types of work visas available, each with its own set of eligibility requirements and application processes.

One of the most common work visas is the H-1B visa, which is available to highly skilled workers in specialty occupations. To be eligible for an H-1B visa, you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer and possess the necessary education and experience to perform the job.

Another option is the L-1 visa, which is available to employees of multinational companies who are being transferred to a U.S. branch of their company. To be eligible for an L-1 visa, you must have worked for the company for at least one year prior to the transfer.

The O-1 visa is available to individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. To be eligible for an O-1 visa, you must be able to demonstrate national or international acclaim in your field of expertise.

If you are an entrepreneur or investor, you may be eligible for an E-2 visa. This visa allows you to invest in and manage a U.S. business. To be eligible for an E-2 visa, you must be a citizen of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.

It is important to note that the application process for work visas can be complex and time-consuming. It is recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to help you navigate the process and increase your chances of success.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

If you are an undocumented immigrant in the United States, you are at risk of being deported at any time. Entering the United States without approval from U.S. immigration authorities is illegal, and staying in the U.S. without permission after a visitor visa, work or other visa, or other authorized stay has expired is also illegal. Even violating the terms of a legal entry to the United States can make your stay illegal.

If you are caught living in the U.S. illegally, you may be detained and deported. In addition to the risk of deportation, you may also face fines and other consequences for violating U.S. immigration laws.

However, if you are an undocumented immigrant who has been living in the U.S. for at least 10 years, you may be eligible for Non-LPR Cancellation or Removal. This process allows you to obtain lawful status and a green card. To qualify for cancellation, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You have been living and continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least 10 years.
  • You have been a person of good moral character during those 10 years.
  • You have not been convicted of certain crimes.
  • Your removal would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.

It is important to note that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) does not provide a path to legal permanent resident status. While it may temporarily protect you from deportation, it does not provide a permanent solution to your immigration status. If you are an undocumented immigrant, it is important to seek legal advice and explore all of your options for obtaining legal permanent resident status.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, obtaining a Green Card as a Nigerian immigrant can be a lengthy and complex process. However, with the right information and guidance, you can increase your chances of success and easily navigate the process to achieving your goal of living and working in the United States.


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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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