Have you ever wondered what are the most common ways to get a green card to the United States? We’ve got you covered.
In this short video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you the top sixteen ways you can get a green card to live and work in the United States.
The Top 16 Ways to get a Green Card with Jacob Sapochnick
Here are the top sixteen ways to get a green card
- Marriage to a United States Citizen is the one of the most common ways to obtain lawful permanent resident status. It is an option for those who have a bona fide marriage and entered the United States lawfully (unless they qualify for a special exemption in the law such as section 245i).
- Adjustment of status is the process of applying for permanent residence while lawfully residing inside of the United States
- Consular processing is the process of applying for an immigrant visa while residing outside of the United States
- Family Sponsorship: If you have a parent that is a United States Citizen, your parent can sponsor you for a green card.
- Fiancé(e)s: If your fiancé(e) is a U.S. Citizen, he or she can petition you to receive a K-1 fiancé(e) visa to marry within 90 days of your entry to the United States. You and your fiancé(e) must be legally free to marry, and you must have met one another in person at least once during the 2-year period before filing the fiancé(e) visa petition. Once you are legally married to your fiancé(e), you can apply for a green card.
- Family Sponsorship: If you have a sibling that is a U.S. Citizen, he or she can sponsor you for a green card. However, there are annual numerical limitations on the green cards that can be issued for siblings of U.S. Citizens, with wait times that can stretch to more than 10 years.
- Extraordinarily Individuals: If you are an alien of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics that has received national or international acclaim in your field, you can self-petition for a green card under the employment-based first preference category (EB-1A). Outstanding professors and researchers can self-petition under the EB-1B category, and certain multinational managers or executives can apply under the EB-1C category.
- National Importance: If you are working in a field that is of national importance to the United States government, and you have either (1) an advanced degree directly related to your field of work (bachelor’s or higher), or (2) you have expertise in your field that is above that ordinarily encountered in your profession in the sciences, arts, or business (this is also known as exceptional ability), you can self-petition for a National Interest Waiver of the labor certification requirement under the employment-based second preference category (EB-2).
- Employment-Based Sponsorship: A U.S. employer may also sponsor you for a green card through employment-based sponsorship. This falls under the employment-based third category for skilled workers, professionals, or other workers. This process generally involves the U.S. employer undergoing the labor certification process with the Department of Labor, and the filing of the I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. Once the immigrant petition has been approved, the worker can apply for a green card.
- Investment: Foreign investors may also qualify for a green card through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program which requires a capital investment amount of $800,000 if investing in an EB-5 Regional Center project in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1,050,000 for projects located elsewhere. Under the new EB-5 regulations, EB-5 investors can apply for a green card while the I-526 Immigrant Petition is processing with USCIS.
- Diversity Visa Lottery: Certain foreign nationals can register for the chance of winning a green card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. The program sets aside 50,000 immigrant visas for an annual green card lottery, with registration starting in October. Those who are eligible to participate include individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Winners of the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery are eligible to apply for a green card by September 30 of the fiscal year that the lottery pertains to. For information about the participating countries of the Diversity Visa program please click here.
- VAWA: If you are the abused spouse of a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident, you may self-petition for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Parents who have been abused by a U.S. son or daughter may also qualify for a green card under VAWA. Additionally, unmarried children under 21 who have been abused by a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident parent are also eligible.
- Asylum: If you are in the United States, and you are seeking protection because you have suffered persecution, or you fear that you will suffer persecution if you return to your home country based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, you may be eligible to apply for asylum protection.
- Victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity may be eligible to apply for a U visa. U visa holders that meet certain requirements such as being physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least three years, among others, can eventually apply for a green card.
- Human Trafficking: If you are a victim of human trafficking, you may be eligible for a T visa to remain in the United States if you are assisting law enforcement in the prosecution, investigation, or detection of human trafficking. Such individuals may later qualify for a green card.
- Religious workers who are in the United States on R-1 visas including ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations may be eligible to apply for a green card through employment-based sponsorship under the employment fourth preference category (EB-4).
- Green Card Through Registry Provisions: If you came to the United States before 1972 then you may be eligible to apply for a green card through the green card registry, provisions even if you are in the United States unlawfully.
- Private Bill passed by Congress: If all else fails, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence if you are the beneficiary of a private bill introduced by a U.S. Congressman, that is passed by Congress, and signed into law by the President.
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- September Visa Bulletin
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- National Visa Center (NVC) August 2023 Immigrant Visa Backlog Report
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- NVC Timeframes
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- State Department Newsroom
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