Getting a green card is the first step in becoming a citizen of the United States. Being a green card holder gives you permanent residency and allows you to work in the US. If you’re thinking of applying for a green card, you may be eligible to get a green card through an employer, a family member, or a special circumstance that requires protection. Read on to learn how to get the green card through these categories.
Family-based Green Card
One of the most common ways to obtain a green card is through family members. If you have an American citizen relative, this path may be the fastest way for you to get a US green card. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows US citizens to file a petition for alien relative followed by an application for adjustment of status of the petitioner.
Applying for a green card through this category applies to relatives who meet the any of the following criteria:
- Spouse of a US citizen
- Unmarried children under 21 years old
- Parents over 21 years of age
- Immediate relatives
The USCIS forms to fill out vary depending on the type of familial relationship and some may have additional steps in the application that makes the processing times longer. Speak with a local immigration lawyer if you’re unsure whether you’re qualified to file a green card application through a family-based preference category.
Green Card Through Employment
Another way to obtain a green card is through employment. The employment category isn’t limited to receiving a job offer in the US, but also extends to investments, extraordinary abilities, and specialized jobs.
Employment. If you were offered a job in the US, you can get a permanent resident status with the help of your US employer. After getting a labor certification with the Department of State, you’ll need to fill out Form I-140 Immigration Petition for an Alien Worker and have it filed by your employer to the USCIS office. If you need help getting a work visa to enter the country, seek legal assistance from a reliable immigration attorney.
Investments. Investors can also apply for a visa and become a permanent resident if they invest certain amounts into US businesses and create at least 10 permanent jobs within the United States. To apply for permanent residence status, you’ll need to fill out Form I-526 Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Check with immigration laws or consult immigration lawyers to determine if you qualify for this category.
Extraordinary abilities and specialized jobs. Petitioners who possess extraordinary abilities and are considered the best in their field may be qualified to go through green card processing. Also, those who fall under the following criteria may be eligible to get green cards:
- Member of the armed forces
- Applicants who’ve worked for the US government in Iraq
- Afghan or Iraqi translators
This category only applies to certain people, so it’s important to consult with immigration attorneys to ensure your eligibility before filing your petition.
Green Card for Protection
Refugees and asylees can also become lawful permanent residents by applying for a green card one year after entering the United States. Typically, a refugee or an asylee can get a new green card after being physically in the US for a year, so long as they meet the eligibility requirements for adjustment of immigration status.
Consult an Immigration Attorney!
If you’re considering applying for a permanent resident card, it’s important to determine the right category that best fits your situation to facing delays in your processing times or having your application denied. At Diener Law, we can provide you with legal assistance to ensure that you’re making the right choices in every step of your immigration process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!