3 Ways To Get A Green Card On Your Own in 2024

Are you interested in self-petitioning for a green card (permanent residence) in 2024? If so, you won’t want to miss this important video.


Did you know that it is possible to apply for a green card on your own through a self-petition and avoid the process of getting a U.S. job offer? In this video, we discuss the top three ways you can apply for permanent residence without a U.S. company sponsoring you and without a U.S. job offer.

Option #1: Employment-Based First Preference Category, EB-1A Aliens of Extraordinary Ability

The first immigrant visa classification we will discuss is the EB-1A visa. This immigrant visa is suitable for individuals who have attained “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim in their field.

Those who qualify for the EB-1A category can self-petition for their visa on their own. They do not need a U.S. job offer nor employment sponsorship to apply for permanent residence.

EB-1A is Current on the Visa Bulletin 

Additionally, as of June 2024 the EB-1A category remains current on the Visa Bulletin for all countries except India and China, which means that most applicants will not need to wait to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence so long as the category remains current. For nationals of India and China please see the EB-1A wait times on the June 2024 Visa Bulletin.

To meet the burden of showing “extraordinary ability” under EB-1A, the applicant must provide evidence in support of their petition to establish that he or she “is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”

How can I demonstrate that I have reached national or international acclaim as an EB-1A applicant?

To demonstrate you have sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise, you must show either:

  • Evidence of a one-time achievement (such as a major internationally-recognized award i.e. an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, Nobel Prize, Olympic medal award, etc.) OR
  • If you are not the recipient of a major internationally recognized award, you may still qualify by providing evidence of at least three of the following ten criteria listed below (or comparable evidence if any of the criteria do not readily apply to your field):

*Remember: only three out of the ten criteria must be satisfied to qualify for the EB-1A

  1. Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence (this could be in your particular field or industry)
  2. Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  3. Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media (articles that have been written about you in the news or other major media)
  4. Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  5. Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to your field
  6. Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media (applicable to researchers, scientists, or academia)
  7. Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases (for those applying in specified fields in entertainment or the arts)
  8. Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations (for example executive or top managerial positions in corporations)
  9. Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  10. Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts (for those applying in specified fields in entertainment or the arts)

This remains a great option for those who have a solid basis to meet at least three of the ten criteria listed above.

Option #2: Employment-Based Second Preference Category, EB-2 National Interest Waiver

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver is yet another alternative to self-petition for a green card without the need for employment-sponsorship.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), professionals who can demonstrate either that they have “exceptional ability,” in their field, or possess an advanced degree in their field (U.S. bachelor’s or higher) may apply for a waiver of the U.S. job offer requirement, if such a waiver is in the “national interest” of the U.S. government.

This waiver of the U.S. job offer requirement is known as the national interest waiver.

A petition filed with a request for a national interest waiver on behalf of a person does not need to be supported by a U.S. job offer or even a U.S. employer. Therefore, the applicant may file on their own as a self-petitioner. A waiver of a job offer also includes a waiver of the permanent labor certification requirement.

To establish eligibility, the applicant has the burden of demonstrating that:

  • They possess either an advanced degree (U.S. bachelor’s or higher) OR qualify as a person of “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business, and
  • The waiver of the job offer requirement, and thus, the labor certification requirement, is in the “national interest” of the U.S. government

How do I demonstrate that my endeavor is in the national interest?

USCIS may grant a national interest waiver if the applicant demonstrates eligibility by a preponderance of the evidence, under the following three-prong test decided in the case Matter of Dhanasar:

  • The applicant’s proposed endeavor must have both substantial merit and national importance (demonstrating that your proposed endeavor is of national importance to the government, for example by showing it is a critical or emerging field that is of particular national importance to U.S. competitiveness or national security).
  • The applicant must be well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor and (your track record, work experience, and history of achievements in your field)
  • On balance, it must be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and thus the permanent labor certification requirements (it is impractical to secure a job offer or obtain labor certification through employment sponsorship, the U.S. would still benefit from your contributions even if other qualified U.S. workers are available, and the national interest in your contributions is sufficiently urgent to warrant forgoing the labor certification process)

What type of advanced degrees qualify?

An applicant can satisfy the advanced degree requirement by holding either a:

  • U.S. master’s degree or higher or a foreign degree evaluated to be the equivalent of a U.S. master’s degree or higher; or
  • U.S. bachelor’s degree, or a foreign degree evaluated to be the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree, plus 5 years of progressive, post-degree work experience.

Please note that STEM degree holders working in critical and emerging fields including but not limited to advanced computing, advanced engineering, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, hypersonics, human-machine interfaces, renewable energy, space technologies, and artificial intelligence are recognized as important to advancing U.S. competitiveness and national security interest.

A person who does not possess at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent degree can still apply for a national interest waiver if they possess “exceptional ability.”

If I do not have an advanced degree, how can I show I have “exceptional ability?”

An applicant may qualify for a national interest waiver if they possess “exceptional ability.” Under the law “exceptional ability” is defined as a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business. This standard is lower than the standard for the EB-1A “extraordinary ability” classification.

Applicants can demonstrate exceptional ability by showing at least three of the following criteria:

  • An official academic record showing that the beneficiary has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability
  • Evidence in the form of letter(s) from current or former employer(s) showing that the applicant has at least 10 years of full-time experience in the occupation in which he or she is being sought
  • A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation (if applicable to your field)
  • Evidence that the applicant has commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates exceptional ability. (To satisfy this criterion, the evidence must show that the applicant has commanded a salary or remuneration for services that is indicative of his or her claimed exceptional ability relative to others working in the field)
  • Evidence of membership in professional associations
  • Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility if also acceptable

Final Action Cutoff Date

As of June 2024, the EB-2 category is subject to a Final Action cutoff date of January 15, 2023, on the Visa Bulletin, which means that applicants will need to wait until their I-140 priority date becomes current before proceeding with the adjustment of status (green card) application. EB-2 India and China are also subject to Final Action cutoff dates and much longer wait times pursuant to the Visa Bulletin.

For those who qualify, the National Interest Waiver remains a good option as we expect the final action dates to advance when the new fiscal year begins in October based on historical patterns.

Option #3: Employment-Based Fifth Category, EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Finally, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is another great alternative for those who wish to attain permanent residence based on investment in a qualifying regional center project. This process does not require a U.S. job offer nor employment sponsorship.

A regional center is a business organization, designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor various EB-5 program investment projects. Regional centers gather investment funds from multiple EB-5 investors to fund their projects and meet the EB-5 requirements such as job creation.

For petitions filed on or after March 15, 2022, the amount that must be invested is $1,050,000. If the investment is made in a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment, the minimum investment amount is reduced to $800,000.

Once the investment has been placed in escrow with the regional center, the applicant may file their EB-5 petition, concurrently with the application for adjustment of status to permanent residence (green card). At the conclusion of the EB-5 application process, the applicant will receive a conditional two-year green card. Thereafter, the investor will file a petition to remove the conditions on their green card and receive permanent residence.

Lawful Source of Investment Funds

One of the major components of the EB-5 investment application is providing documentary evidence of the lawful source of the investment funds. Applicants must be prepared to provide a complete accounting to show where the funds for their investment have originated and been put to use for the EB-5 investment project. Such evidence that must be provided may include the investor’s personal income tax returns, salary slips, employment records, or business records as necessary depending on the source of the funds. Where funds have originated from a third-party, such documentation must be provided by the third-party to demonstrate the lawful source of the funds.


In conclusion, these three options are great ways to obtain permanent residence without the need for a U.S. job offer or employment sponsorship. Each carries its own requirements and considerations, but at the end of the process applicants receive their permanent residence to live and work in the United States. To determine whether you qualify for these options, we invite you to schedule a consultation with us.

Contact Us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-569-1768 or call 619-819-9204.

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