Green Card Inequities Plague Immigrants

The grueling green card process in the US needs an overhaul

By Taylor Ford

I am a senior at Skyline High School in Oakland. My capstone project is based on green cards and inequity of obtaining them. A lot of immigrants live among you and I live seemingly normal lives, but are held back by not knowing how to apply to gain a green card in the US. I want to inform the readers about this green card process, in hopes that this information could help you or others become legal in the United States.

People wait in line for food and services daily for a number of things including: groceries, traffic, and even the DMV. However, there are also groups of people who wait in line for more important things, like their future.

For all who are unaware, a green card is a form of identification that holds someone’s status to live and or work in the United States; much like a driver’s license or passport. The major problem with green cards right now is what is happening in the waiting lines. A large group of immigrants are getting green cards, while the rest wait in line hoping to receive a green card. Some know that they cannot even get in the line because they are ineligible.

Indeed, one first must know their eligibility. Those who meet the eligibility must fill out the l-485 form, (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) so you can register for a permanent residence/Adjust status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and fees. The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) will review the application and set up a schedule for an interview.


According to USCIS, Immigrants have to wait 6-12 months and spend around $750 to acquire a green card in the United States. And the “public charge” rule on green cards by President Donald Trump, is vile because the rule is made to make it harder to obtain visas or green cards for immigrants already in the U. S. legally as well as those seeking to enter.

So now that I have given you all this background on the subject of the green card, here are the steps on how to apply for a green card in the US.

The first stage is called the eligibility stage. You need to determine if you are eligible for a permanent residence. To do this you must get sponsored by someone like a family member who lives in the US or a US based company. Then comes the filing of an immigration petition. To apply for a permanent residence application you must have the aforementioned sponsor, file an immigrant petition for you. Also, there has to be a visa (a legal conditional authorization by a country for a foreigner to be there) for the category your applying for. Finally comes the approval of the immigrant petition by the USCIS.

Because there are so many immigrants waiting in line to get a green card, combined with the overwhelming amount of steps and the high cost, the process drags out over the course of  six months or more.

The next stage is called the identification stage. Once you have found out if you’re eligible or not, you must determine which process application to go through to receive a green card. You must file an application to register for a permanent residence and submit to the USCIS. Biometrics (a department that specializes in body measurements and calculations) will schedule the meeting for you and you will receive the schedule through the mail with the date, time, and location of the meeting. During your appointment, you will have your fingerprints taken, a photo, and provide a signature.

The last stage is called the decision stage. The background information that you have provided will determine some external factors that could result in a denial of a green card. The USCIS will schedule an interview with you after reviewing your application and taking your biometrics. However, they will not tell you if you get approved or not during the time of the interview. Once your interview is complete and approved a green card will be issued out to you in a few business days.

Because there are so many immigrants waiting in line to get a green card, combined with the overwhelming amount of steps and the high cost, the process drags out over the course of  six months or more. Most immigrants do not always know the steps to gain a green card or even to apply for one in the US. Even if they do, sometimes they just do not have the money, time, or resources to do so. This is why I personally find this to be such a huge issue and hopefully, this information will spread to those who will make a change and fight against this unjust system.


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