How to Get A Green Card –
They require an immigrant visa for a foreign national who wishes to live permanently in the United States. They sometimes refer this to as obtaining a green card.
A green card is essential for becoming a citizen of the United States if you are an immigrant. They have formally known a green card as a Permanent Residence Card.
What is a Green Card
They officially referred to green card holders as lawful permanent residents (LPRs).
As of 2019, there are about 13.9 million green cardholders. 9.1 million of whom are eligible to become US citizens. Approximately 65,000 of them are members of the United States Armed Forces.
It statutorily permitted green card holders to petition for U.S. citizenship after demonstrating, among other things.
That they have continuously lived in the United States for one to five years. And are of good moral character by a preponderance of the evidence.
Those under the age of 18 automatically gain U.S. citizenship if they have at least one U.S. citizen parent.
Because of its historical greenish tint, the card is known as a “green card.”
Previously, it was known as a “certificate of alien registration” or an “alien registration receipt card.” Absent special circumstances, immigrants aged 18 and up might face up to 30 days in jail for failing to carry their green cards.
How to Apply for a Green Card
There are three primary routes for immigrants to get a green card. You can get one via family members, employers, or as a refugee/asylum seeker. This is a lengthy procedure, but we’ll go through all you need to know.
Here are the top seven ways to get a green card in the United States. A green card allows you to live and work legally in the United States.
They have two questions you should answer before beginning the application process.
1. Are You Eligible to Apply?
People can apply for a Green Card in a variety of ways under US immigration law.
The eligibility requirements may differ based on the immigrant category for which you are applying. Visit our Green Card Eligibility Categories page to learn about all the many categories you can apply for and the requirements for each.
Being nominated for a Green Card. Most people who seek a Green Card must fill out two forms. An immigrant petition and a Green Card application (Form I-485).
Someone else must normally file the petition for you (also known as sponsoring or petitioning for you), though in some situations you may be able to file for yourself.
2. Are You Inside or Outside the United States?
As you are eligible to apply for a Green Card. You must choose between a change of status and consular processing.
- Adjustment of status with USCIS in the United States.
If your immigrant petition has been approved and an immigrant visa is available, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS.
Assuming you do not already have an allowed immigrant petition, check the eligibility requirements for your Green Card category to see if you can file the petition and Form I485 concurrently (we know this as concurrent filing).
We can find more information about applying for a Green Card in the United States on our Adjustment of Status website.
- Consular processing with the U.S. Department of State
Go to our Consular Processing page for the next steps
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Green Card Eligibility
To be eligible for a Green Card, you must fall into one category stated below.
Once you’ve identified a category that may apply to your circumstances, click on the link to learn more about the eligibility requirements, how to apply, and whether your family members can also apply with you.
When individuals discuss the simplest way to get a “green card” (lawful permanent residency in the United States), they usually mean a combination of:
- the method of obtaining a green card is the quickest?
- Which method of obtaining a green card has the least stringent eligibility requirements?
These questions do not have a single answer. Of course, one’s personal circumstances play a role in one’s eligibility for immigration. Nonetheless, this article will focus on the green card categories that people most regularly used to enter the United States, including:
- ties within the family
- a job with a company based in the United States, and
- the immigration lottery for diversity
But, before we get there, let’s look at why some types of green cards take so much longer to obtain than others.
1. Marry Your Way In
To be eligible for a green card in this manner, an immediate relative who is at must sponsor a foreign citizen at least 21 years old and either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
Marriage is a typical method of accomplishing this, but the marriage must be genuine and not simply undertaken for immigration—the intent is critical.
In fact, there are two kinds of family-based immigrant visas in general:
Immediate Relatives – These visas are granted to people who have a close familial link with a US citizen, such as a spouse, kid, or parent. Each fiscal year, the number of immigrants in these categories is not regulated.
Processing is completed quickly—usually within a year.
Family Preference – These visas are intended for particular, more distant family links with a U.S. citizen, as well as certain specified relationships with a lawful permanent resident.
Each fiscal year, the number of immigrants in these categories is limited. Processing takes longer, frequently years, if not decades.
2. Invest Your Way In
Currently, the EB-5 direct investor program allows investor immigrants to get green cards by investing as little as $500,000 in their enterprises and creating ten alternative employment.
This is a temporary opportunity that will most likely close before the end of the year, with the needed amount expected to rise to $ 900,000 as it did previously.
The program’s regional center variant is now closed and awaiting reopening by Congress.
3. Transfer Your Way In
Consider Toyota sending a manager from Tokyo to New York to supervise the company’s New York office.
This is a classic example of an inter-corporate move that can lead to a green card. They must base your petitioning employer in the United States and intend to hire you in a managing or executive role.
The petitioner must have been conducting business in the United States for at least one year as a legal entity with a qualifying relationship to the entity that employed you in a managing or executive role abroad.
Because no labor certification is required, this is a very desired approach to get a green card.
4. Work Your Way In
Apply for an H1B work visa and then a green card via labor certification. As outlined in the student example, or apply for an EB-2 extraordinary worker green card based on a national interest waiver.
H-1B applicants who perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit, and ability related to a Department of Defense cooperative research and development project.
Or services as a distinguished fashion model can get green cards if their employer applies for labor certification and then sponsors them for a green card.
Again, this is a hard path that begins with a lottery in most H1B cases and is limited in number every year.
If they associate the position with a college, a nonprofit linked with a college, a nonprofit or U.S. federal research institution, or an entity that requires the H-1B employee to work at one of these first there are three types of employers.
There is no numerical limit. However, because it is so difficult, the H1B visa route is the least preferred option to get a green card.
The benefit of an EB-2 application is that you can self-petition for a green card without relying on a job offer.
In addition to providing evidence of an advanced degree or exceptional ability, you must also meet the national interest waiver criteria.
Which states that the proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance, that you are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor,.
And that it would benefit the United States to waive the normal requirements of a job offer, i.e., labor certification.
5. Study Your Way In
Get a student visa to study at a university in the United States for a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
This will entitle you to Optional Practical Training, a one-year post-graduate employment permit. After a year, ask your boss to file for an H1B work visa on your behalf.
Then, have the boss apply to the Department of Labor for labor certification, demonstrating that there are no American workers who are ready, willing, and able to take the job.
Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Service, apply for a green card.
It is a long and painful route, but it may be the only choice for many applicants, particularly those with abilities but little money to invest and no relatives in the United States.
6. Win Your Way In
Apply for a green card through the annual Diversity Green Card Lottery, in which 55,000 applications are chosen to come to the United States.
These are applicants from countries that are under-represented in terms of immigrants to America, such as Estonia, Fiji, or Ukraine.
7. Achieve Your Way In
Follow in the footsteps of worldwide achievers such as Drake or Ryan Reynolds, who can get green cards because of their accomplishments.
Individuals who have received internationally renowned honors such as an Oscar, Grammy, or Pulitzer Prize, or who have reached the pinnacle of their profession or calling, are frequently included.
In general, such exceptional ability applicants are celebrities in their profession.
If an applicant does not fit into any of these categories, a spouse may have the necessary credentials.
Either way, the immediate family members of the applicant also get green cards in the process. The descriptions above are fairly general—they should thoroughly explore any choice picked in order to nail down all the intricacies involved.
3 Other Ways to Get a Green Card
There are three more options for immigrants to get a green card. You can get one via family members, employers, or as a refugee/asylum seeker.
This is a lengthy procedure, but we’ll go through all you need to know.
Category 1: Green Card Through Family
If you have a close relative who is a US citizen or has a green card, they can petition for you to seek legal permanent citizenship. This is the quickest and most common way to get a green card.
Citizens of the United States may petition for immediate relatives, such as:
- Also, Children under the age of 21 who are not married
- Parents of US citizens over the age of 21
In addition to the immediate relatives of US citizens listed above, relatives of US citizens and green card holders have the following preference categories:
- Priority is given to unmarried adult sons and daughters of US residents over the age of 21.
- Second Preference (2A): Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children of permanent residents under the age of 21.
- A Second Preference (2B): Unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents over the age of 21.
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of US citizens (of any age).
- Fourth Preference: Adult U.S. citizens’ brothers and sisters
Green Card Through Family
Using USCIS Form I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative, your relative must legally establish the relationship.
Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, follow that application (if you are in the U.S.). They may complete both applications at the same time sometimes.
If your relative has a green card, the procedure is the same as it is for U.S. citizens, although it will take longer.
It will require consular processing for relatives who are not in the United States. The United States Department of State issues their green cards.
When they are allowed to the United States after receiving a visa from the Department of State, it will give them a green card.
Green Card Through Family
Citizens of the United States can also petition for siblings and married children above the age of 21. However, because these people are not considered immediate relations, the process takes much longer.
Things change when you marry or reach 21, and immigration law dictates that you must wait longer to get a green card through a U.S. citizen relative.
You can also apply for a green card using USCIS Form I-360 if you are an Amerasian, a widow(er) of a US citizen, or a Special Immigrant. As an example, you could be a:
- Battered spouse or child
- Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen
- A special immigrant including religious worker, U.S. Armed Forces member, and more categories
Category 2: Green Card Through a Job
Because it does not simply relate to your employer, this green card category is quite broad. Green card prospects might also be obtained through investments or specialized employment.
- Permanent Employment
If you’ve got a job offer for permanent employment in the United States, your company can be a part of your green card petition.
Your company must first get a labor certification from the Department of State and complete USCIS Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker.
Only highly skilled professionals are typically offered permanent job contracts.
If investors invest enough money in U.S. enterprises, they may be eligible for green cards.
Foreign nationals can apply for a green card after investing at least $1,000,000 in a new business or $500,000 in a business in one of the targeted employment areas.
(A court recently overturned a regulation that increased the investment amounts to $1,800,000 and $900,000, respectively.)
The company must produce at least ten full-time jobs in the United States. Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, is the form to fill out.
- Extraordinary Abilities
Having outstanding ability is an incredibly rare method to getting a green card. An EB-1A visa is the name given to this type of green card.
These candidates are thought to be the greatest in their field. Nobel Laureates and Olympic athletes are two of the most likely candidates for a green card through this process.
Category 3: Being a Refugee or an Asylee
Immigrants who enter the United States as refugees or asylees can apply for a green card one year after arriving. This also applies to asylees’ direct family members. Here’s what you should know about migrants and asylum seekers:
- After a year in the nation, refugees must file an application for a green card.
- They do not require green card applications of asylees.
If they meet the conditions for a green card, refugees or asylees normally do not need to file an immigration petition with the USCIS, such as an I-130 or I-140.
They can submit the I-485 adjustment of status application on their own.
General Application Process
The actions you’ll need to follow to apply for a Green Card will differ depending on your situation. However, most applicants will go through the following steps in the application process:
- Someone else must normally file for you an immigrant petition (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you). You may be able to file for yourself sometime.
- Also, file a Green Card application with USCIS or a visa application with the US Department of State once USCIS approves the immigrant petition, and a visa is available in your category.
- Also, you make an appointment with a biometrics specialist to supply fingerprints, photographs, and a signature.
- Additionally, an interview will e scheduled for you.
- They review your application and then decide.
What to Do If Your Green Card Application is Pending with USCIS
If you’ve already submitted a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
And your case is still pending with USCIS, visit our While Your Green Card Application Is Pending with USCIS page for more information on how to check your case status.
Update your address, and schedule appointments with USCIS.
Filing the Immigration Petition
Before you apply for a green card, you must first decide which category you fall into and then file the appropriate petition:
- Before you apply for a green card, you must first decide which category you fall into and then file the appropriate petition:
- Also, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and green card holders must complete form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative.
- Also, if you’re applying through your company, they’ll need to fill out Form I-140, Alien Worker Petition.
- Furthermore, you must file Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by an Alien Entrepreneur if you want to invest your way to a green card.
- Additionally, as you’re an Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, you’ll need to fill out Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
If refugees and asylees complete the requirements to change status and get a green card, they rarely need to file an immigrant petition.
Factors that Might Prevent You from Getting a Green Card
Factors that Prevents You from Getting a Green Card
- if you are ineligible for a green card under US immigration law because they do not meet the basic standards.
- also, you are technically eligible but are denied because of a different ground of inadmissibility, or
- additionally, you could not meet all the immigration application requirements.
We’ll go through these obstacles in more detail below, as well as how you might overcome them in your pursuit of a green card in the United States.
How to Get Basic Eligibility for a U.S. Green Card
There are various ways to qualify for a green card in the United States under US law.
Many foreign-born individuals receive one through a close relative who is a lawful permanent resident or citizen of the United States, such as a spouse, parent, or citizen child (over the age of 21).
Another option is to have a job or a job offer from a company in the United States, in which case your employer will sponsor you.
You may also be eligible for a green card if you are an entrepreneur with at least $1 million to invest in a U.S. business that creates jobs (or $500,000 if the investment will be made in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA)) (category EB-5).
If you are fleeing persecution, you could apply for refugee or asylee status and then apply for permanent residency a year later.
These are not the only ways to apply for a green card in the United States. But they are all strictly specified.
There is no way to get a green card if you merely have friends in the United States who like you and want to sponsor you. Or if you can show that you would make a decent member of American society.
You must fall into one of the pre-existing legal eligibility categories.
Some people try to fit themselves into a green card category that doesn’t truly match them. Such as pretending to be the unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident when they’re already married or marrying a U.S. citizen who has paid to sponsor them.
That can lead to a lot of problems, including refusal of the green card. Either right away or after the applicant has settled in the US.
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List of Green Card Categories and What they Mean
List of Green Card Categories
11: Unmarried Amerasian son or daughter born in Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam to a US citizen. PL-97-359 added Sec. 203(a)(1) of the INA and Sec. 204(g) of the INA (Oct. 22, 1982) – ((entered with the letter IV))
12: Aliens designated as A11 or A16 have a child. INA sections 203(d) and 204(g), as amended by PL-97-359 (Oct. 22, 1982) – ((entered with the letter IV))
16: Aliens designated as A11 or A16 have a child. INA sections 203(d) and 204(g), as amended by PL-97-359 (Oct. 22, 1982) – ((entered with the letter IV))
A17: Child of an alien classified as A11 or A16. Sec. 203(d) of the INA and 204(g) as added by PL-97-359 (Oct. 22, 1982) – ((Adjusted status))
A31: Born in Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam, married Amerasian son or daughter of a US citizen. INA Sec. 203(a)(3), as amended by PL-97-359, and INA Sec. 204(g) (Oct. 22, 1982) – ((entered with the letter IV))
Additionally List of Green Card Categories
A32: Spouse of an alien with the classifications A31 or A36. INA sections 203(d) and 204(g), as amended by PL-97-359 (Oct. 22, 1982) – ((entered with the letter IV))
33: A child of an A31 or A36 alien. INA sections 203(d) and 204(g), as amended by PL-97-359 (Oct. 22, 1982) – ((entered with the letter IV))
36: Born in Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam, married Amerasian son or daughter of a US citizen. INA Sec. 203(a)(3), as amended by PL-97-359, and INA Sec. 204(g) (Oct. 22, 1982)–((Status change))
37: Spouse of an alien with the classifications A31 or A36. INA sections 203(d) and 204(g), as amended by PL-97-359 (Oct. 22, 1982)–((Adjusted status))
38: A child of an A31 or A36 alien. INA sections 203(d) and 204(g), as amended by PL-97-359 (Oct. 22, 1982)–((Status change))
AA1: Natives of various foreign countries have been badly affected (Diversity Transition). PL-101-649, Sec. 132 (Nov. 29, 1990) – ((entered with the letter IV))
Checking Visa Availability
You can proceed with the process once they have filed the relevant petition. Ensure that visas are available for you as one of the next stages. A visa is required to enter the United States legally and is required to apply for a green card.
The number of visas available varies depending on the immigrant category and the country of origin:
- Immediate relatives of US residents do not have to wait long for a visa because the number of visas available in this group is infinite.
- There are a limited amount of visas available for non-immediate relatives and those applying through work. You’ll be given a “priority date” and placed on a waitlist until your visa becomes available.
- Also, each month, the State Department publishes the “Visa Bulletin.” Which allows immigrants on the waiting to verify their status.
Filing Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status
In most circumstances, Form I-485 is used to apply for a green card for those who live in the United States. A few immigrants, such as those in the abusive spouse or child category, may need to fill out a new form to change their status.
It’s critical to fill out this application completely and accurately. As even minor errors might result in costly delays or rejections from the USCIS.
By guiding you through the application procedure step by step. FileRight can make the paperwork process more approachable.
You can normally complete Form I-485 at the same time as Form I-130. If you’re applying for a green card through an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen.
Form I-485 Application
As of May 2021, the filing fee for Form I-485 is:
- A majority of candidates received $1,140.
- Also, they will charge applicants under the age of 14 who are applying with one or both parents $750.
- Refugees and asylees can stay for free.
They will additionally charge applicants between the ages of 15 and 78 who are not filing asylee or refugee $85. Biometric fee, which must be paid at the same time.
How to Handle Complications in the Immigration Application Process
Filling out and preparing a large amount of paperwork is required when applying for a green card.
Sometimes people sabotage their own claims by failing to read the instructions carefully. Checking all the relevant boxes on the forms and paying the correct fees.
USA immigration authorities will normally send things back for a second try or issue a “Request for Evidence” (RFE). However, if the applicant cannot submit the correct items on time, this can result in delays and even denials.
Inconsistencies in filling out forms can lead immigration authorities to believe that the applicant is lying or otherwise untrustworthy.
The lesson is obvious: double-check everything you submit, and always tell the truth. Or get legal advice if you believe telling the truth would only result in a denial.
Diversity Visa Immigration
The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program is sometimes referred to as a “lottery” for green cards. This isn’t far from the truth.
Foreign people from nations with a low number of permanent residence applications to the United States are eligible for 55,000 immigrant visa numbers under US immigration rules.
You can apply under the DV program for a chance to be randomly selected and assigned an immigrant visa number right away.
If you meet the minimum educational requirements, can prove that you’ll be able to support yourself financially in the United States. And have no previous criminal activity, immigration violations, or other problems.
Unfortunately, like with any lottery, your odds of winning the DV program are dependent on both personal circumstances and luck.
Also, if you are from a nation where there are already many permanent resident applicants Your chances of getting picked for a DV immigrant visa are significantly reduced.
If you are chosen under the DV program, you will receive an immigrant visa number right once and a quick path to a green card. As long as you complete the process before the visas for that year run out (a challenge in and of itself).
Green Card Opportunities in Family-Sponsored Visa Categories
It’s the quickest way to qualify for family-based immigration is to be the spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21, or parent of a U.S. citizen over the age of 21.
They’re all considered “immediate relatives,” and they’re all eligible for immigration visas right away, with no waiting periods or annual limits. (They aren’t even on the Visa Bulletin’s list.)
The following are the categories stated in the Bulletin under Family-Sponsored Preferences:
- First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses and children of permanent residents (category 2A) and unmarried sons and daughters age 21 or over of permanent residents (category 2B).
- Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.
It’s worth noting that none of these are relatives (i.e. no cousins or grandparents).
Spouses and unmarried, Under-21 children of U.S. permanent residents often enjoy the shortest delays. Often between two months and two years among these so-called “preferred relations” (not immediate relatives).
However, it is contingent on demand, or the number of others who apply before you.
What to Do If You Already Have a Green Card
If you already have a Green Card, visit our After a Green Card is Issued page for more information on travel, card renewal, and your rights and responsibilities as a Green Cardholder.
1. Beware of Scams
Scammers will try to take advantage of you by obtaining your personal information or money. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the immigration, visa, or Green Card procedure.
2. Authenticate Documents
They can present a legal document issued in the United States for another country. Court orders, contracts, vital data, and educational degrees are examples of these documents.
The procedure for authenticating a document varies depending on the document. The state in which it was issued, and other considerations.
What to Know About Employment-Based Preference Categories
Call the DOS Office of Authentications at 1-202-485-8000 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET for more information, procedural specifics, or status.
Unlike family-based preferences, an employer in the United States is usually the organization sponsoring a foreign national under the employment-based preference categories.
Furthermore, the employment-based categories are primarily defined by the difficulty and educational requirements of the job. The foreign national would be performing.
The Fourth and Fifth employment-based preference groups are notable exceptions. These will be discussed in greater detail later.
Though most categories have short wait times for employment-based immigrant visas. The application procedure needs a significant amount of work and evidence from both you and the sponsoring employer.
Additionally, the basic eligibility requirements in terms of employment skills, education, and experience might be fairly tough.
- Employment First Preference (EB-1): “Priority workers,” such as internationally famous artists, award-winning scientists, or multinational company executives or CEOs, who are regarded as outstanding in their industry.
- They gave professionals with advanced degrees or people of extraordinary aptitude second priority for employment (EB-2).
- Also, persons whose projected job in the United States will cause at least a Bachelor’s degree-level education in some specialized subject. As well as some unskilled laborers (but the wait is very long).
- In most situations, the Second and Third Preferences require an employer sponsoring a foreign person to complete a “market test” of the employment market. To guarantee that no U.S. citizens or permanent residents already in the country will be displaced from an open position.
- So-called “special” immigrants, including specific types of religious workers and juveniles who need to join foster families in the United States. They are given priority under the Employment Fourth Preference (EB-4) program. This category’s requirements are extremely technical and beyond the scope of this article.
- Employment Fifth Preference. Also known as the “Job Creation Visa.” This visa is for foreign people who may invest a significant amount of personal assets in an enterprise in the United States. That can employ at least ten full-time U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
- Also, aside from the high monetary requirements, US immigration authorities analyze applications in this category closely because of the possibility of fraud.
To summarize, getting permanent residence in the United States is a laborious task. However, there are other routes you can take to cut down on the time it takes to get a green card.
Consult a professional immigration attorney regarding the various paths to getting a green card. As well as lesser-known categories not included here.
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