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If you are not a citizen of the United States, having a green card enables you to live and work legally in the country. This identification card proves that you have permanent resident status and must be carried at all times if you are 18 and older.
There are three common ways to qualify for a green card: 1) sponsorship by a family member, 2) sponsorship by an employer, and 3) through refugee or asylum status. In the past, the green card application process was long and frustrating, sometimes taking months to complete. That's why green card services have become so popular.
Monday, January 18th
Although Simple Citizen has only been around since 2014, they've already made quite the name for themselves. As a startup, their investors included the well-known Y Combinator and BoomStartup; their mentions in Wired, USA Today, and on NPR - among many others - have made Simple Citizen the "high-tech darling" among green card services.
Referred to as the "TurboTax for immigration", Simple Citizen streamlines the green card application process through an online interface that walks you through a series of well-designed questions, allows you to upload supporting documents, and then passes your application along to an immigration attorney. Simple Citizen then prints out the completed application and sends it via mail, with clearly-indicated places where you (and your spouse, if applicable) need to sign.
Amazingly, Simple Citizen can help you complete your entire green card process for less than $350 (note: USCIS filing fees are extra and aren't typically included in any green card service provider's costs).
Simple Citizen offers 3 levels of green card application services. These include:
First you click on the "Let's Get Started" button to use the screener that Simple Citizen uses to determine what kind of green card application fits your situation. You'll be asked if you're currently in the US or outside, which visa you used when you entered the country, if you have a spouse or child that is a US citizen, and so forth. In our case, we were told to expect a preparation time of two hours to complete our application.
Clients rave about Simple Citizen's live support. Numerous reviews and testimonials praise the responsiveness of Simple Citizen's representatives, especially those that were nervous about getting their application done correctly, or who just felt that they needed a little extra hand-holding during the process.
Simple Citizen also earns high marks for including document translation services. If you're submitting a birth certificate from China, for example, Simple Citizen includes the translation of that document into English; their in-house staff speaks a half-dozen languages, and they use consultants for any additional languages they need.
Best of all, clients who use Simple Citizen say that they get the job done accurately, inexpensively, and often in much less time than it would take them to do it on their own. We found several reviews that said that using Simple Citizen saved them months of processing time AND several thousands of dollars compared to working with an in-person attorney. Same process, same successful result - but far less time, money, and hassle involved.
It's often said that when it comes to 3 things - fast, good, and cheap - you can only choose two. But when it comes to Simple Citizen, we think you can get all three. For all of these reasons, Simple Citizen is the first choice for people who want to get their green card, and earns our highest rating for the best green card service.
LegalZoom is well-respected for providing accurate advice and access to lawyers for numerous legal situations. Instead of giving you a form with instructions and wishing you luck, LegalZoom gives you a free first consultation and partners you with an attorney that will handle your case every step of the way.
Because every situation is different, LegalZoom can't tell you exactly what your case might cost. They do state that most green card applications average just under $1500; this does not include the USCIS filing fees that you'll also need to pay.
To get started, you'll fill out the form for LegalZoom's free initial consultation: name, current immigration status, desired immigration action, and so forth. You'll be contacted by an immigration professional who will give you a free assessment of your individual circumstances, clear-cut pricing information, and a referral to an attorney that will handle your application.
Unlike some of the green card services we evaluated, LegalZoom does seem to have options for those who are in the country currently without proper documentation. Of course, you'll have to sign up for your free consultation to find out what, exactly they do offer and what their fees are, but at least it was given as one of the options in the dropdown boxes.
LegalZoom has an "A+" grade with the Better Business Bureau, demonstrating their respectability and trustworthiness. Although we didn't find many client reviews specifically describing LegalZoom's green card services, their overall reputation across the legal spectrum is excellent.
If you've got the money to spend and you prefer to have an immigration attorney overseeing your green card application throughout the whole process, LegalZoom is an ideal choice for your immigration needs.
Citizen Path offers "immigration forms made simple". Using their Green Card Center, you'll find a wealth of resources to help you understand the process of applying for or renewing your permanent resident status.
You'll need to click on the "Start for Free" button on the How It Works page (or the Immigration Form Finder in green at the top of the site). You'll be asked to select your current status (such as Permanent Resident, Undocumented, or DACA grantee) and what action you're hoping to take (such as getting a 10-year green card). You'll then be given a list of forms necessary for you to apply for that outcome.
Be aware that Citizen Path is a pay-per-form service. For example, we were told we needed the Form I-751 for our situation, and the fee was $97. Citizen Path gave us step-by-step instructions for filling it out, and personalized filing instructions when it was finished. This service gets points for not requiring payment until the form is finished to our satisfaction. We were also able to access live customer support, either by phone or email. You may not need that live support; many clients say that they got automatic alerts if anything they entered on their forms was incorrect, and they were able to fix it without any help.
You may be able to get an extra 10% off of your fees with Citizen Path: when we used the site, we got a pop-up offering that discount if we signed up for their email newsletter.
We love the guarantees that Citizen Path offers. First, they guarantee that your form will be accepted by USCIS; if any form you prepared through Citizen Path is rejected, you'll get a refund of your entire fee (as long as the rejection isn't due to incorrect/false information or failure to follow the service's instructions). Second, Citizen Path also has a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee if you have any issues with their service; of course, this doesn't cover any dissatisfaction due to processing delays, governmental responses, or "changes to your situation or your state of mind".
How does Citizen Path measure up when compared with other services? Overall customer opinion is positive: we found numerous 4- and 5-star reviews that said the process was easy and affordable. The largest drawback we found is the lack of attorney review; Citizen Path is very quick to state that they do not offer any kind of legal advice, and because of this there is no attorney review included as part of their service fees. This does put them slightly lower than more comprehensive green card services, because you'll have to pay an attorney on your own if you want that additional peace of mind.
Overall, Citizen Path does make it simple to determine the forms that you'll need for your green card application, and they enjoy a solid reputation among previous clients. They're a good choice for individuals whose situation is fairly straightforward, and for those who don't need a lawyer to advise them or review their application.
There are many different types of green cards, and Green Card Experts focuses on a single type: the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. This is sometimes referred to as the "lottery", with 50,000 issued each calendar year.
In order to be eligible for this type of green card, you'll need to meet the following criteria:
The application process is straightforward: enter your information, such as name, address, country of birth, marital status, and so forth. Green Card Experts will verify your eligibility, review your application and notify you of any errors, and then process your application. You'll get updates on your application any time you like via the service's website.
Green Card Experts is the only service in our review that will maintain your lottery application for as long as you wish. Fees range from $50 for a one-year application ($75 for married couples) to $200 for a lifetime application ($300 for married couples). This enters your application into the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery every year, with no further fees or paperwork, and children are included free of charge in every application. The best part of this service is that you don't have to worry about missing deadlines or eligibility requirements - two of the main reasons many applications are disqualified each year.
This service enjoys an "A+" reputation with the Better Business Bureau, and customers give their representatives compliments for responsiveness and overall knowledge of the application process. You can reach their customer service department 24/7 via email, or via phone during regular business hours.
What Green Card Experts does, it does extremely well. We found no other service that is better for those who specifically want to enter the green card lottery and are qualified to do so. But, for those who are hoping to get permanent residency through work or marriage, this service will not be able to help them.
VisaPro is a Washington DC-based immigration law firm that has been in business for nearly 15 years. With over a thousand clients from more than 50 different countries, this green card service has experience with most immigration situations.
You can start by clicking on the "Check My US Visa Options" button. You'll need to select whether you're hoping for a work visa or a family visa, enter your information, and then the online tool will show you your options. Otherwise, you can choose the Free Visa Assessment; enter your name, email, and phone number (optional), and you'll get a no-charge, 10-minute consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer who will review your personal situation and help determine your eligibility for a green card.
What does VisaPro charge? When we spoke with a representative at VisaPro, she said that they do not publish their rates online. Even when you go to their Fees page, all you'll find is that they charge a flat rate for most cases, though some may be billed hourly. These fees are indicated in the agreement that you will sign if you decide to become their client. Compared with other green card services, VisaPro lacks transparency: you'll have absolutely no idea what it might cost you to work with them until you actually talk with one of their professionals. People usually want to know a rough estimate of costs before giving their information out, especially in a situation like getting a green card that may be sensitive; VisaPro loses points for not offering their potential clients any way of knowing what their fees might be.
Also, when we described a situation of an undocumented immigrant wanting to get legal status for herself and for her children currently living in another country, the representative said, "We don't do that." When we asked what kinds of green card cases they do handle, she replied that they mainly help people in situations needing work visas, or who have spouses that are American citizens. Given that their site proudly advertises that they "help clients achieve success in all immigration matters," we were disappointed to learn that there are many people who will not be able to use their service after all.
On the other hand, VisaPro clearly knows what they're doing with respect to immigration, especially with green cards for those who meet their criteria. Reading through the Success Stories section of the site, it's obvious that their lawyers truly know how to help their clients. Every case is handled by an attorney; there's no guessing at which paperwork you might need or if you've done it accurately. And, with an "A+" rating as an accredited company with the Better Business Bureau, VisaPro has a solid reputation.
If you are looking for help with your green card application that includes working directly with an experienced attorney, VisaPro might be a good choice for you. But, because they do not publish their fee information, be prepared for an expensive bill if you choose to use their services.
Green Card Family - also known as Family Green Card Service - takes a strictly do-it-yourself approach to applying for a green card. Each person applying for permanent residency must purchase a package for $97. This package includes:
From the information they provide on their site, it looks like Green Card Family doesn't even include the necessary USCIS forms with this DIY package: instead, they provide links to "official sources of many free US government forms and services". So, in short, it looks like your $97 gets you a packet of papers that give you advice on immigration law and how forms can be filled in, but no advice that will help you with your individual application.
In fact, Green Card Family says right on their site, "We offer general advice on common problems, and do not give specific advice to specific individuals about their particular problems": [We are] a private, non-lawyer website".
The only way to contact Green Card Family is via email to a help desk address or through a PO Box in New York: no toll-free number, no live chat.
While the site does show customer testimonials, there's no way of knowing when those were written. We found no reviews anywhere else online, no rating with the BBB, no profiles on any social media platforms.
Green Card Family just doesn't measure up when compared with other services currently available, most of which offer personalized recommendations for those hoping to establish or renew their permanent residency status. We strongly suggest that you choose a higher-ranked green card service in our review.
Traditionally, whichever path made the most sense for you, the green card application process would take several months - or longer - with a large amount of paperwork to be completed. Many green card hopefuls became frustrated while completing the forms necessary for their application. And it was not unusual for green card applications to be returned for a single error, creating further delays and possibly resulting in rejection of the applicant.
For these reasons, green card services have become popular. Why risk unnecessary delays and having your application rejected if you can work with an experienced professional to make sure that everything is in order? These services range from do-it-yourself application packets that are reviewed by immigration experts, to full-service companies with attorneys that have years of experience in immigration law that can help you through every step of the process.
It's important to understand that for people who "entered without inspection" - or who came into the US without interacting with a border agent (for example, an "undocumented immigrant") - there may be even fewer ways to get permanent resident status. As immigration laws have changed several times over the last few years, you should be aware of whatever the current possibilities may be for your particular situation.
Which green card service is right for you? As you consider the various green card srevices, here are several things to keep in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Green Card services currently available. We hope that this information helps you obtain your green card and permanent resident status, so that you can work and live in the United States, as quickly as possible!
Select any 2 Green Card Services to compare them head to head
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