We’ve been in the USA now for almost 3 years. I had been on a work visa and we recently renewed it. So we can stay here until the early parts of 2020 without any problems.
This also means that we can apply now for a Green Card or Permanent Resident status. The big question is should we?
This process can be complicated and we may need the help of a lawyer to apply for it. I asked some friends of mine about the process and did a bit of research. I also asked for quotation from some lawyers.
Applying for Green Card is an expensive process.
The first lawyer I asked said that the total cost of applying for a Green Card would be between $12,000 to $18,000–this amount includes legal fees and application fees.
I asked a friend of mine–a Filipino Pastor assigned in the Nevada area–about what they did. He gave me the email address of their lawyer. He gave us a little bit more information.
Legal fees cost $6,150. This doesn’t include the government application fees. We’ll need to include $435 application fee for the first paperwork to be done. Then the last part of the application will cost us $1,070 per applicant for the adjustment of status. Our total cost would then be just a little under $10,000.
If we don’t get a lawyer, we’d still spend almost $4,000. But we’ll be on our own in trying to figure out how this system works.
Do we invest this money on our Green Card? This touches on our long-term plan. Quite honestly, my wife and I have not really decided yet if we want to live in the USA for the long term. If we want to become citizens here, we need to be Permanent Residents for 5 years. Besides, we can also recoup the amount we spend on the Green Card in several years because my wife will be able to work, too.
But it’s still a big IF. Do we really want it?
On the other hand, $10,000 is a pretty good sum of money that we could use to start a small business in the Philippines. We can also live our lives close to family and friends instead of being too far away from them.
Do we want to raise our child in the USA? We are Filipinos and still want to raise our child with values and worldview that correspond to ours. I know that if we decide to go home, our son will also adjust in a big way.
Applying for a Green Card will broaden our options.
It means being able to earn and save some, which we can use to build our lives and our child/ren’s lives in the future.
Uncertainties. Another factor we need to consider is the immigration situation in the USA. It’s not very immigrant-friendly right now, especially with the current President and his policies. There are also other uncertainties we need to consider that I may not be at liberty to disclose right now.
Before 2017 ended, my wife and I decided that we will apply for a Green Card. We have ample time before the expiry of our visa. I will be documenting this experience as it happens.