Green Card: What is that?

A lot of people ask me about green cards. I am no immigration expert but today I will try to give you guys an overview in what is this famous ”card” and what does that imply.

Wikipedia definition: A United States Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551), formerly Alien Registration Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form I-151), is an identification card attesting to the permanent resident status of an alien in the United States. It is known informally as a green card because it was green from 1946 until 1964, and it reverted to that color on May 11, 2010.

Green card also refers to an immigration process of becoming a permanent resident. The green card serves as proof that its holder, a lawful permanent resident (LPR), has been officially granted immigration benefits, which include permission to reside and take employment in the United States. The holder must maintain permanent resident status, and can be removed from the United States if certain conditions of this status are not met.

Can everyone get a green card? NO! absolutely not.

The main categories are:

  • Green Card Through Family

  • an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, this includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category, this includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • a family member of a green card holder, this includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring green card holder
  • a member of a special category, this can include battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K nonimmigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
    • Green Card Through a Job Offer

     You may be eligible to become a permanent resident based on an offer of permanent employment in the United States. Most categories require an employer to get a labor certification and then file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for you.

    • Green Card Through Investment: Green cards may be available to investors/entrepreneurs who are making an investment in an enterprise that creates new U.S. jobs
    • Green Card Through Self Petition: Some immigrant categories allow you to file for yourself (“self-petition”). This option is available for either “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” or certain individuals granted a National Interest Waiver.
    • Green Card Through Special Categories of Jobs: There are a number of specialized jobs that may allow you to get a green card based on a past or current job, such as:
      • Afghan/Iraqi Translator
      • Broadcaster
      • International Organization Employee
      • Iraqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government
      • NATO-6 Nonimmigrant
      • Panama Canal Employee
      • Physician National Interest Waiver
      • Religious Workerugh a Job

    • Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status

    please check the requirements HERE

    For more information, visit the official website (where I got the information) of the department of Homeland Security:
    http://www.uscis.gov/

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    F1 Student: Yes, you CAN!



    Hello everyone!

    Hopefully you are all doing well. The past weeks have been crazier than usual
    and I haven’t had a lot of time to write. This month was the closing ceremony
    for the CUNY Service Corps at Lehman college. I woke up so early
    (whoever knows me well, also knows I am not a morning person…unless I am
    getting paid for it, then I can wake up at 3am, 4am… hahah ) to take the
    subway all the way from Brooklyn to the Bronx and it took me over 1h and 20
    minutes to get there!

    I was happy to see my friends and heard the awesome news that some of them got
    hired!!
    I’ve also had a chance to talk to other international students that were not
    able get job afterwards because of visa restrictions.

    Every single person I’ve ever met who was not in our f1 visa have no clue what
    we go through.
    Sometimes international students move to the U.S with little or no English at
    all… other times, we face the struggles of paying for our college tuition (no
    financial plans, no FASFA, not a lot of scholarships, out-of-state tuition,
    etc.) and so much more.

    The reality is that we come here alone and we are probably leaving alone
    (unless you get married at some point ! lol) that is the reason we need to set
    a goal and work as hard as we can to accomplish it.

    I am not going to lie and say I was the best student at High School, in fact I
    was really bad. I couldn’t care less about my grades and if I got a passing
    grade, I was happy. Failures have shown me that I needed to change something in
    my life, I had to keep trying, I had to find my passions and set up GOALS.

    Moving to the U.S has changed me in a dramatic way. The American system works
    differently; not only in terms of college education, but also personal
    relations, networking and the paths to get to your dreams. The best way to
    improve yourself is moving to a country where you have to conquer you job through
    you academic rating and understanding your flaws and limitations.

    When I started to participate in college activities and I was exposed to what
    was available for me in terms of friendships, jobs and personal development; I
    could not stop. Self-improvement is addictive!



      A special thanks (and I will always be grateful for this person) is to Mr.
    Harry Mars, who is the Director of student activities of my college. He is
    ALWAYS there for students, not only as a director but taking multiple roles;
    such as a father for students, a role model, a counselor, a peace-maker and he
    will always be his best it doesn’t matter what the situation is. Oh! Just a
    funny thing that happened last semester:



    When I was the Vice-President of the Beauty and Fashion
    Club, we were hosting a big Christmas party for students and the president of
    the club got some donations, which were HUUUGE panels from a previous Fashion
    show she has attended. Since we did not know who to talk to, one of the club
    members just drove this huge truck and dropped everything off on a space that
    had an open door (for college deliveries and stuff like that). Since we were
    not allowed to do it (but unaware of it) The college security started looking
    for us, investigating cameras and everything and they were also decided to call
    the city trash collection to take it away hahah

    So Mr. Mars was contacted, and after talking to us, we explained that it was
    our first club, we were not aware of where to dispose things, college
    permissions, etc. As usual, he went above and beyond, he talked to security
    with us and did his best to try to accommodate all the stuff we had but
    unfortunately the panels were so huge that they couldn’t even pass the
    college’s door. But anyways, it was just one situation that Mr. Mars showed his
    professionalism and understanding of student needs and at the same time, we
    learned what to do and definitely what NOT to do on campus haha. 




    Through him, I’ve heard and participate of leadership academies ( B.O.L.T and P.L.U.S) and I’ve made friends for a lifetime. THANK you again Mr. Mars.

    Going back to our topic, as an international student myself I faced and
    continue to face a lot of challenges every single day. I found out some tips
    for international students are they seem to be very accurate!

    1- Get involved

    One of the best ways to make new friends is to join a club or an
    organization. Do you love music or play an instrument? Mix with a group of like-minded
    people and maybe even join a band or choir. Participate in sports or some other
    activities that you like and have maybe even done before college – Sports are a
    great way to meet new people because you all have a common goal. Whatever it is
    that interests you, you will have no trouble finding a group or organization,
    either on or off campus that you can join and enjoy. Once you are a member,
    join group activities and volunteer to help. You will get to know others while
    doing good. Club activities easily turn into social activities and you’ll find
    yourself going to the movies or for a bite to eat with fellow members.

    2- Learn English phrases and slangs

    This seems obvious, but the slang is the important part. College students in
    America typically don’t speak as formally as the books and guides that teach
    non-English speakers, so be sure to research some commonly used phrases and
    slang terms among the youth of America. If you hear a phrase that confuses you,
    don’t be afraid to ask! It will be easier to make friends with other students
    if you show genuine interest in what they’re saying.

    3- Tip!

    Tipping, while not a common practice throughout the rest of the world, is
    expected in the U.S. Restaurants do not typically add gratuity to a bill, so
    patrons are expected to tip their server somewhere between 15-20% to reward
    them for their service. It is considered extremely rude not to do so, so be
    sure to check your bill and tip your waiter if gratuity hasn’t been added.

    4- Keep up with pop culture and sports for good conversation topics

    College students in the U.S., just like everywhere else, love to talk about
    entertainment and sports. Use your free time to read magazines and update
    yourself on entertainment news, watch popular TV programs, and learn the basics
    of popular American sports like football, baseball, basketball and hockey. Not
    only will this help you have conversations with native students, but it will
    provide you with an authentic experience of American culture.

    5- Befriend American students as well as other international students

    I’ve been an international student before, so I understand that it’s often
    difficult to break out of that classification and make friends with the locals.
    International students are grouped together in living arrangements and classes
    at many universities, so you should make a conscious effort to befriend some
    Americans. It may seem intimidating, but it’ll give you a more authentic
    experience and hopefully provide you with lifelong friends that you can go back
    and visit someday!

    6- Don’t be intimidated

    This advice goes for pretty much anyone studying abroad: no matter who you are
    or where you’re from, you’ll be interacting primarily with other college
    students, and we all have many similar qualities and interests deep down. Take
    the rest of these tips into consideration and get ready for the experience of a
    lifetime!


    Undervalued abroad- A path full of ups and downs.

    Moving to another country is a difficult decision itself. Starting again, meeting new people and feeling extremely lonely during the adaptation period is as natural as it is challenging. When I decided to move to the United States, I didn’t imagine the extent of my decision! I don’t come from a rich family, but never anything was ever lacking at my home. I was born and raised in a middle-class Brazilian family and attended a private catholic school my entire life. I had nannies, babysitters, extracurricular classes (such as ballet, tennis, private English school, private tutors for math, physics, science, etc). I also picked a major I loved and I ended up studying Architecture for two years at a private college. That’s when everything changed… I was following the same path as 99.9% of my friends (as expected of any Brazilian middle class individual, things were predictable, therefore, boring -for me. ) I was going to get an internship, maybe a partner, open an architecture office and that is it. I wanted more.

    My city in Brazil. Maceio-Alagoas

     The college I was attending in Brazil

    I knew that waiting for my graduation would delay my idea of study abroad. I always wanted to live the American high school dream, experience something new, meet new friends, but the time has passed by so fast. My dream of attending high school was already in the past, I missed the chance and now it was time of decision making again! I felt deep in my heart I had to live abroad for at least a few months. I planned the trip for almost a year! I always had in mind that English would be essential for any career that I wanted to pursue. So, I decided to learn it and come back with full fluency. That way, it would be easier to get a job in another state or at a multinational company.

    I have never imagined my decision would make me suffer in so many ways and forms. I came to the U.S in 2010 to live with a host family and learn English. On the first months living with the family, suffered from homesickness, I was experiencing loneliness in a country that I wasn’t familiar with. I was living with a middle-class American family at a suburban city in New Jersey whose quality of life and habits were very different than what I was used to. The culture shock was immediate. As soon as I arrived at my house, I was introduced to my car, a red Honda accord (that in the future would become my best friend.)  

    The city I lived for my first year in the U.S it was called Chatham and it was located in New Jersey.

    Main street

     

    The only Gazebo and park in the city haha

     Over the weeks, I learned a few things such as

    1- The distance in relationships (in that case of parents and children).
    2- The amount of junk food kids eat (and crazy meal schedules).  
    3- Everything about the city I was living was extremely clean.
    4- Americans were very punctual. 
    5- Driving on the red light gives you a ticket (in Brazil, we usually don’t stop on red lights after 6pm because it can be very dangerous! Robbers target drivers at night).

    Although I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of my host family behaviors, I was living an amazing experience. With the monthly meetings (organized by the exchange travel agency I came) I met other girls, which some of them, later on became best friends and others, friends of convenience.

    Since my work schedule was flexible (2:30 pm to 7:30 pm) I had every morning and evenings free.
    In the morning, I chose Drew University to start my English classes. (a decision that couldn’t have been better, besides being a wonderful college, my teacher was a sweetheart ) through my English classes, I met other exchange students. I loved spending mornings learning English  and sharing experiences with people from all over the world.



    Building were my classes were held. I loved every single detail about Drew.
    One of the buildings


     Some Brazilian girls I met came from very poor backgrounds. Sometimes when I tried to communicate with them, it was complicated because their written Portuguese and communication skills were confusing. Some girls in my class were obsessed about American men and the idea of getting married and staying here forever. Some just wanted to learn English and return to their country of origin and start college. Others girls wanted to go to college here (my case). Meeting those people and hearing their life’s stories and their goals in the United States, it was definitely very interesting. Each person carried a background and in our comfort zones we never get to meet people from other upbringings.

    Self-confidence X Support


    Living abroad is not easy. We are constantly learning new things about ourselves. Having family support (even if it is over the phone) can be a powerful tool. But, more important than that, is finding balance and knowing your own VALUE. I can’t even count how many times people looked down on me for the fact I am Brazilian. Unfortunately social issues in Brazil has brought an incredible number of illegal immigrants to the United States. Those are the same immigrants that make people create the Brazilian ”stereotype”. Being strong therefore is not an option but a path we all need to take when living away from home. When you are a part of a sub-minority, you have to be assertive and not let anyone bring you down.  

    Switching visas- from J1 to F1.

    During my exchange year (living and working for a host family) I took classes both in New Jersey and in New York City. Twice a week I would attend my ESL class at Drew University, once a week I would attend my french class at a local church and every Saturday I would come to New York for my jewelry design classes at Studio Jewelers(my therapy!)

    I took advantage of my first year to explore schools and opportunities. I guess around my 8th month in the United States, I decided to switch my j1 visa to f1 and attend college over here. Since we all need to take the TOEFL test in order to get accepted to any college, I made my student visa application through an English school in New York called ALCC.

    Entrance of ALCC on 36th street.

    For 4 months, I took the train 5 days a week from NJ to NY for my classes. At ALCC, I took writing, speaking, listening and TOEFL prep. classes. Right after 4 months, I took the TOEFL test and scored 92. I was ready to apply for colleges. Since I was still living in New Jersey, I decided to apply to a community college there. 


    I started my classes at Raritan Valley C.C but unfortunately the staff was very unfriendly. They obligated all International Students to take endless English classes (that sometimes it would take up to 2 years). That meant we were paying tuition fees for English classes regardless of our TOEFL scores or time lived in the U.S. (of course, it was a college in the middle of nowhere, they needed money) Watching the time passing by while taking a 4 hours commute (yep, 4 hours! 2 trains + light rail + bus = 8 hours commuting every day) made me feel completely miserable. I’ve never felt so frustrated in my whole life. I could barely taste a class related to my major. I was studying English all over again, leaving home at 4 am and coming back at 10-11pm. 


    That is when I decided to move to New York and attend college over here. I applied for 4 CUNY colleges: Baruch, City College, Hunter and Borough of Manhattan Community College. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend Baruch, City or Hunter because as a transfer international student, you have to have English 101 and Math. Since all my classes in 1 year and 6 months at Raritan were only ESL, I wasn’t able to transfer to a 4 year college. 


    I moved to NY on April and started attending BMCC in the fall of 2013. As soon as I got here, I had to take some CUNY assessment tests (to see if I needed any remedial classes). I passed all tests and no remedial classes were needed. I was finally going to register for my first real English and math class! I could not contain my happiness. During my first semester, I was happy but a little bit lost. It was during my second semester that I started to get more involved on campus. I applied for of a leadership program called B.O.L.T (Building Outstanding Leaders of Tomorrow) and this program changed everything.

    BMCC- Fiterman Hall
    I am the blond one on the left 🙂

      Through the B.O.L.T program, I met a lot of leaders on and outside campus. I got to understand how the student activities office operated and all opportunities the college had to offer. After meeting Kimberly Chu, a lovely person responsible for the CUNY CORPS PROGRAM, (Opportunities for
    students, faculty, and staff at
    the University to work on projects that improve the city’s short and
    long-term civic, economic and environmental sustainability), I applied for the program.

    After
    endless interviews with organizers and companies, I was hired by an
    awesome and by far (at least for me) the best organization. I will be
    working for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on their mobile development team. They only had 4 spots
    for 4 different departments and my best friend, also made it too. My college population is of 24000 students and only 108 were in
    the program ( less than 1% of the students, to be exact 0.4%). Yes, I am happy and proud of my journey =).


    Now, in my third semester at BMCC I will start working on my first real job pretty soon, I am also part of the P.L.U.S program and I am the vice president of the college’s Fashion and Beauty Club.

    There are no smooth rides when we do the ”right thing”


    Doing the right thing sometimes can be very depressing. As I previously talked over here, living on a student visa is really, REALLY  hard. We have so many limitations! We are not allowed to work outside campus (unless is approved by USCIS)… As soon as we graduate we have to find a sponsor, etc, etc. Sometimes I also feel sad when someone ask me why I don’t attend college x or z when for International Students,most of the times, financials are the biggest reason for going to a less known college. It is very difficult for outsiders to understand the struggles we face and many of them don’t believe in our capacities. That is why we need to stand up for our beliefs and keep walking no matter what! The journey can be long but at the end we will say with relief: I MADE IT! 





    Starting a club on campus and making new friends

    Hi friends!

    Good news, I decided to post every two weeks on my blog 🙂 So, if you are interested in following an international student’s life, you can subscribe to my blog on the bottom right of the page (so u get email notifications) or you can simply come back here for every two weeks from now.

    This semester I took a new challenge. One day my friend texted me asking if I had interest in being the Vice-President for the new club she was creating ”Fashion and Beauty Club”. I always wanted to be part of a club and even though I am a little busy this semester, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to meet new friends while I gain experience and develop my communication skills.
    This semester I am taking 14 credits, I am on a volunteering program called P.L.U.S (Partners lending universal support) and I am also working for the CUNY Service Corps. With so many things going on I thought being in a club would take too much of my time…. but fortunately, club meetings are on Wednesdays from 2 to 4 pm and I happen to be free at this time! So I took the challenge. Let’s see how it is going to be =)

    To open a club, at least in my college, we need:

    1 President
    1 Vice President
    1 Secretary
    1 Treasurer
    15 students
    1 faculty mentor
    Write a club consitution

    All executives officers need to be full-time students and have a minimum gpa of 2.5 or 3.0 ( I can’t remember exactly)

    We also have to pick up an application inside the student’s activities office and we have to hand it back before the deadline.

    Kauna, the club president, designed some flyers last minute, which looked really awesome btw and we handed out a few days before the club application deadline. In only two days on campus, we already had 26 students signed up! We were so happy!!! 🙂

    Today, we had the club fair on campus. The club fair is a day when all students have an opportunity to promote their clubs! It was nice, we brought iPads and I designed some name badges. Two of our club members gave a little speech (Henry and Jodi)

    Kauna, Jodi, me, Ezinma and Henry
    Our name badges! 🙂
    Henry and Jodi promoting our club!

    Why should we start a club while we are in college? 

    People create clubs for all kinds of reasons. If you have an
    interest in something, is a great opportunity to meet people who think like you. You may also be
    looking for something to put on a grad school application or a resume. You may just want to make some new friends and have a good time.
    Nothing wrong with any of that! Think about all the reasons people have
    for joining, and try to offer a little something to meet all those
    needs. A survey or a discussion about what people want out of this
    organization might be a good place to start. 
    Hopefully you guys are inspired to open your own clubs!
    If you have any questions, you can email me on my contact page

    XoXo,

    Li.