Unlocking the American Dream: The Definitive Guide to Green Cards for UK Citizens
Are you a citizen of the UK but yearn to move to the US? Things can get a little complicated. Before you pack your bags and book a flight, there’s one important hurdle that you have to overcome: obtaining a green card.
Luckily for you, this article is a comprehensive guide on obtaining a green card for UK citizens. Keep reading to find out if you meet the eligibility requirements, what is the application process, and how to sail smoothly through the entire procedure.
What is a Green Card?
Let me put it this way. If you are a British citizen wanting to live and work in USA permanently, a green card is your license for doing so. Green card holders are considered lawful permanent residents (LPRs). In the year 2021, 740,000 immigrants received green cards from the US government.
Being an LPR gives you the right to work, study, and travel within the U.S. for three to five years before you become eligible to apply for US citizenship. In other words, the only way to obtain US citizenship is via a green card.
If you’re a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and planning to visit Los Angeles Vs New York, you can apply for an ESTA visa through the ESTA Application.
The process is simple and fast, enabling you to acquire your visa quickly and have a hassle-free trip to either city.
How Can I Obtain a Green Card?
There are several ways by which you can obtain a green card. You can opt for family sponsorship, employment-based sponsorship, entrepreneurship, studentship, refugee or asylum status, or through the Diversity Visa Lottery program.
The Diversity Visa Program, aka the Green Card Lottery, provides visas to immigrants from countries with exceptionally low rates of migration to the USA. However, the US green card lottery for UK citizens is currently inoperational.
For UK citizens, the most common method of obtaining a green card is via employment sponsorship, followed by family sponsorship.
Green Card Eligibility
This varies with the route that you take for obtaining a green card.
Your family member will be the petitioner in this case. The petitioner will be a US citizen or a current green card holder. Additionally, your relationship with the petitioner should be a qualifying relationship.
In the case of family sponsorship, you will either fall into the immediate relative or family preference category. Immediate relatives are:
- Unmarried child below 21 years of age
- Orphan adopted abroad
- Orphans to be adopted in the US
- Parents (older than 21 years of age)
The immediate relative category is a special category because an immigrant visa is always available to those who are eligible. The waiting time is also shorter compared to other categories.
The family preference category includes:
- Unmarried sons and daughters and their minor children
- Married sons and daughters, their spouses, and their minor children
- Siblings, their spouses, and minor children.
Family preference categories generally have a long waiting time because of the limited number of visas allotted to this category per year.
In this case, your job must be in a specific occupation that qualifies for a green card. The USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) maintains a list of eligible occupations that you can look up for further assistance.
Additionally, your educational background and work experience should also meet the requirements that are specific to your occupation.
How to Get a Green Card From UK- Procedure
Before you initiate the application process, it is essential that you are in possession of all the required documents. The documentation required varies from case to case, depending upon the route of the green card application that you have chosen.
However, generally, you should have the following in handy:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce decrees
- Death certificates
- Military records
- Court and prison records
- Police certificates
- Labor contract
Any documents which are not in English must have a copy of a certified translation attached.
Step 1: Obtain a Petition From Your Sponsor
Your sponsor can either be a family member or your prospective employer in the US. Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) is used in the case of family sponsorships and Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) is for employer sponsorships.
The USCIS must receive the respective forms, along with the required documents and application fee. Note that the petitioner can file form I-130 even if they are outside the US.
Step 2: Receive the NVC Package
Your petition will be reviewed by the USCIS. If it is approved, all of your paperwork will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). You will be informed when your case gets transferred to the NVC by post and email. Additionally, NVC will also grant you online access to the case from this point onwards.
Subsequently, NVC will send the package to your home country. (the UK in your case). This package includes all of the instructions and paperwork that you need to fill in, in order to proceed with the application process.
Step 3: Visit the US Embassy
Your NVC package will contain instructions regarding visa application. As instructed, you will be visiting the US embassy. Note that the NVC recommends that you get all documents scanned and then submit them to the embassy. In some cases, originals are also required. Make sure that your document folder is readied as per the instructions received.
In the Case of Employer Sponsorship
You will have to pay a visa fee and submit additional documents at the US embassy. Although every individual will have a unique preference, if you are relocating from the UK to the US, the most sought-after work visas are the EB-1 and EB-2 visas.
You will be scheduled for a visa interview at the US embassy. Once your visa is approved, you can fly to the US.
After arrival to the US, you will have to fill out form I-485 and submit it to the USCIS. This is the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
In the Case of Family Sponsorship:
The petitioner will now have to file another form, Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). By doing so, the petitioner takes financial responsibility for the immigrant. Here, it is important to note that many of the I-864 forms are delayed or ultimately denied because the petitioner fails to provide the necessary details.
Completing the DS-260 form: Finally, your petitioner will apply for the green card via the form DS-260. This application is available online at the Department of state website. Upon online completion of the form, take a printout of the confirmation page and carry it with you to the interview.
Once you have paid all the fees, submitted all the required documentation, and filled in the DS-260 form, you have done all that is required at your end. You will be notified by the NVC that your application is “documentarily” complete. You will receive further notification regarding your interview at the embassy.
Medical examination: Before the interview, you will have to undergo a medical examination. This will be conducted by an embassy-specified physician only. The report will either be sent to the embassy directly or handed over to you in a sealed envelope. This envelope is to be opened by the consular officer only.
The interview: Subsequently, you will be notified of the date of your interview at the US embassy. This can be a quick procedure, provided that you go well prepared. All the family members who have applied for the green card are required to be present at the interview. The petitioner’s presence is not required.
Step 4: Recieve Your Green Card
If your application is approved, you will receive your green card via mail.
What is the US Visa Processing Time For UK Citizens?
The entire process can take several months up to a year, or even more. The processing time ultimately depends on the backlog of applications, the type of green card that you are looking for, and other factors.
Green Card Validity
Your green card is valid for up to ten years after the date of issuance.
Tips For Success
Relocating from the UK to the USA to live the American dream might seem like a long and arduous journey. However, there are several steps that you can take in order to increase your chances of success.
- Work with an experienced immigration attorney: A qualified attorney can guide you through the process, answer your questions, and help you avoid common mistakes.
- Keep your paperwork organized: ensure that you have all the documents that are required. Remember that you will also be required to submit proof of documents. Some examples include proof of employment and educational credentials. Stay a step ahead, and keep everything secure and organized in a file.
- Prepare for the interview in advance: you should practice answering questions about your job, education, and background. Additionally, make sure that you are professionally dressed whenever you are called for your interview.
- Be patient: the green card process can take time, so be prepared to wait. Furthermore, keep a check on the status of your application so that you can take timely action in case of any updates or changes to your application.
Is it Worth Moving to USA From UK?
There are numerous reasons for making the move. For one, the USA is an economic hub. The kind of opportunities available here might not be available back home. There’s cheap housing and a four-season climate. To top it all, you can simply communicate in your language
Can a UK citizen get a US green card?
Yes, a UK citizen can get a US green card. To do so, you must first be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or a prospective U.S. employer. Additionally, you must also obtain an approved petition before you apply for a green card.
How long does it take to get a Green Card for British citizens?
If you are outside of the U.S., the immigrant petition processing time for British citizens takes anywhere between 29.5 and 61 months. Within the U.S., the processing time to adjust your visa status ranges from 7 to 29 months.
Can UK citizens work in the USA?
Yes, UK citizens can work in the USA temporarily with a non-immigrant visa like an E-1 or E-2 visa. If you are looking for an intra-company transfer, you can apply for an L-1A or L-1B visa.
What is the UK version of the Green Card?
The Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is the UK version of the Green Card. An ILR status allows you to live and work in the UK, without any restrictions on the length of your stay.
Take Home Message
Many UK citizens aspire to relocate to the US in pursuit of more opportunities. In order to be able to live and work in the US, obtaining a green card is of utmost importance. As a British national, the easiest way to obtain a green card is by family or employment sponsorships.
In either case, the process is initiated by your sponsor filing a petition on your behalf. You will have to submit all the necessary documents, fees, and subsequently filled forms. The process culminates with an interview which will be conducted at the US embassy.
After a successful interview, you will receive your green card via mail. It is valid for ten years from the date of issuance. As a green card holder, you can study, work, and live in the US without any hindrance. After a specific time period, you can also apply for US citizenship.