Generally, a lawful Permanent Resident may apply to obtain U.S. citizenship via a legal process called “Naturalization” after they have been a resided in the country for five years or more. However, an immigrant spouse of a U.S. citizen may apply to naturalize after only three-years of residence.
Naturalization applicants must also prove their ability to read, write, and speak basic English by passing reading and writing tests (and being interviewed by a USCIS officer), as well as pass a Civics test covering important U.S history and government topics. However, exceptions and accommodations to the English and Civics tests are provided based on factors such as age and disability.
Generally, an immigrant must become a Permanent Resident in order to obtain a green card. There are four general categories that an immigrant may apply to get a green card: 1) Family, 2) Employment, 3) Refugee/Asylee, and 4) Other.
Many immigrants obtain their green cards via the first category of Family-based immigration petitions (such as the Form I-130). Immigrants may qualify to immigrate by being the immediate relative (parent, spouse, or child) of a U.S. citizen, a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category, a family member of a Permanent Resident, or a member of a special category (such as battered spouses or children of U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents, fiancés of U.S. citizens, widows(er) of U.S. citizens.
Immigrants may also obtain their green cards via the second category of Employment-based immigrations petitions, or via the third category of applying for asylum or refugee status, or by applying fourth “Other” category that includes the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, U.S. Armed Forces members, and Religious Workers.
WORKING IN THE U.S.A
You may be able to enter the U.S. by applying for a Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Worker visa programs, such as the H-1B visa (for workers in specialty occupations), the H-2A visa (for temporary or seasonal agricultural workers), etc.
You may be able to immigrate to the U.S. if you’re the family of a U.S. citizen, the family of a Green Card holder, or the fiancé of a U.S. citizen. Please see the discussion of Family-based immigration petitions above under Green Card for more information.
Deportation, or removal proceedings, are the legal process by which the Department of Homeland Security, Executive Office of Immigration Review, Immigration Court orders lawful and unlawful immigrants to be removed (i.e. “deported”) from the U.S. and sent back to their home countries, usually for being convicted of a crime making one eligible for deportation, or for entering the country illegally.
Both lawful Permanent Residents and unlawful immigrants have rights to be protected in deportation hearings, and may qualify for a Cancellation of Removal where the Immigration Court finds they may remain in the U.S. It is important that you consult with an attorney when you receive the Notice to Appear from DHS-EOIR ordering you to appear to Immigration Court.