4 Ways to Obtain a Green Card
A green card is a document issued to non-U.S. citizens who have been given permission to live and work in the U.S. for an indefinite time period. Immigrants can acquire a green card through a variety of ways, but the government limits the number of green cards issued each year, and those seeking permanent resident status must meet certain eligibility requirements.
Below are the four ways in which a non-U.S. citizen can become a green card holder.
- Through family
- An immigrant may be eligible to get a green card if they are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, have a family member who falls into a preference category, or a family member who is currently a green card holder.
- A non-U.S. citizen may also qualify for a green card if they fit into a special category, including a battered spouse or child, or a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen, among other unique circumstances.
- Through employment
- Green card hopefuls may be eligible to immigrate based on employment or a job offer. For this option, employers are required to obtain a labor certification and complete other documentation.
- Investors and entrepreneurs who seek to make an investment in a business, and therefore create U.S. jobs, may qualify.
- An immigrant may be allowed to file for themselves through self-petition if they fall within a certain category, such as Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, or if they are granted a National Interest Waiver.
- Specialized categories of jobs may allow immigrants to acquire a green card, such as: broadcasters, Afghan/Iraqi translators, International Organization Employees, and religious workers, among others.
- Through refugee or asylee status
- If someone is admitted to the U.S. as a refugee or as a qualifying member of an asylee, they may apply for a green card one year after their entry into the U.S. Those granted asylum in the U.S. may apply one year after the grant of asylum status.
- Refugees are allowed to remain in the U.S. indefinitely.
- Other ways to obtain a green card
The majority of immigrants gain permanent legal status in the U.S. through the aforementioned means, but there are other ways to acquire a green card.
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, often referred to as the “Green Card Lottery” because it draws from entry selections at random. This program allows for 50,000 visas annually.
- K Nonimmigrant, which includes those who are affianced to a U.S. citizen and their minor children.
- Legal Immigrations Family Equity (LIFE) Act. This provision requires the immigrant to be a beneficiary of a labor certification application and other similar official procedures.
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ) Status allows abused, abandoned or neglected foreign children in the U.S to acquire a green card in order to live and work permanently in the U.S.