Immigration: "Green Card" Permanent Residence (Frequently Asked Questions)

For this month we will be discussing some common questions that we receive from prospective clients who are getting ready to pursue their permanent residence “green card’ through their spouse.

1. Question:  I am engaged and my fiancé and I want to know more about the immigration process to obtain my permanent residence.

Answer: Great Question. The best time to learn about the “green card” process for a couple is when you are engaged. The immigration process will not actually begin until you are married.  However, for newlyweds Immigration always evaluates the couple’s relationship prior to their marriage as well as after they have tied the knot.  The immigration process will begin with the filing of your immigration petitions. The second step is the pending phase where you can continue to build your case in anticipation of your interview. The third step is the “green card” interview. Based on the unique facts of my clients’ cases I usually discuss the processing times and our case strategy at our consultation.

2. Question: My husband and I are newlyweds and we are trying to figure out how to start the immigration process.

Answer: The best way to start the immigration process is to start gathering all of your personal items such as your birth certificates, passports, visa, I-94 card, marriage certificate, divorce decree(s) if any. The next step is to schedule a consultation to gain detailed information on the immigration process.

3. Question: I entered the United States on someone else’s visa and now I am getting married to my wife and I want to apply for permanent residence in the United States. Can I apply for permanent residence?

Answer:  Generally individuals who have legally entered the United States and are now married to US citizen may apply for permanent residence despite the fact that they have overstayed their visa or they have worked without immigration’s permission. However, the key point is that the applicant is required to prove legal entry. If you entered on someone else’s documents then this is not legal entry. If there is no legal entry the applicant will have to explore some other options in order to gain permanent residence through his/her spouse.

4. Question: Presently my driver’s license is expired and I need to work. Will I be able to obtain my work permit and get a new license while my green card case is pending?

Answer: Generally the answer is yes. If you are eligible to apply for permanent residence “green card” in the United States Immigration will provide you with a work permit while your case is pending. Once you have received your work permit you may present that document to your local DMV office to obtain a new license.  If you do not have a social security card you may also present your work permit to your local social security office to obtain a social security number.

5. Question: I have heard from many individuals that the immigration process is very long. If I hire an attorney will my processing time be reduced?

Answer:  Whenever you submit your  petition to Immigration there is a suggested processing time based on Immigration’s current workload. The processing time can be drastically extended if you did not submit a complete application or if your documents have not established that you are eligible for your benefits. As a result of that Immigration may request additional documents or send a notice that they intend to deny your case. All of these actions will delay your case and add to your processing time.  For our clients we work to ensure that they receive the shortest processing times by preparing their case to avoid the unnecessary delays due to Immigration’s request for evidence and Immigration errors.

6. Question: My husband and I have already attended my green card interview. However, we just received another notice for a second interview. What is going on? Why does Immigration want to interview us again?

Answer: The second interview is what is normally known as the “fraud interview.” This mean that Immigration does not believe that there is sufficient evidence or testimony to prove that you and your husband have a genuine marriage. At this point, you will need to rebuild your case to now convince the Immigration Officer that you are in fact a real couple. This is a very high burden. You should consult or hire an attorney immediately. We handle “fraud interviews’ on  a consistent basis and we have been successful.

7. Question:  My wife and I applied for my permanent residence and my case was denied. Should we file an appeal or should we just reapply?

Answer: The decision on whether or not to file an appeal or re-file your case is based on the reason for the denial of the first petition. If Immigration denied your case over a minor procedural issue and they made an error I would suggest an appeal. If Immigration denied your case because you did not prove that you were eligible for your benefits it may be beneficial to re-file your case or file an appeal. The best way to decide on this matter is to consult an attorney.

8. Question:  If my permanent residence case was denied will I be deported?

Answer: Excellent question! The answer is yes and no. Once your immigration case is denied Immigration can forward your file to the Immigration Court for removal proceedings. In that case you will be required to go to court and prove that you have legal status or that you are reapplying for legal status. In some cases your immigration file is not transferred to the Immigration court and that allows you time to decide if you wish to file an appeal or re-file your case with immigration. Ultimately if you are placed in removal proceedings and you have no legal status and you have no way to acquire any legal status the Immigration court will order removal. If you have a denied case your best option is to consult with or hire an attorney to help you to either file an appeal, re-file your case, or defend you in Immigration Court. My firm handle all of these matters.

Bonus: If you are engaged or married and you wish to learn more about the “green card” process contact our firm for a free teleseminar where we will answer your questions and provide you with some helpful tips on acquiring your new immigration status.

Disclaimer: This article is a broad overview and is provided as a public service. This article is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any reliance on the information contained herein is taken at your own risk. The information provided in this article should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed. 


About the Writer:
Safiya Byars ([email protected]) is the senior partner and owner in the Law Office of Safiya Byars ( She is an active member of the Caribbean and International communities in Georgia. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Montevallo and received her law degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Her office is located at 160 Clairemont Avenue, Ste. 200, Decatur, Georgia 30030.  Attorney Byars handles all immigration matters, deportation defense, family law issues, and business formation/litigation. To discuss you case, contact Attorney Byars at 404-992-6506 or 678-954-5809.