Relocation to the United States can happen for many reasons. Some individuals coming to the United States are fleeing war, prosecution, or other dangerous situations. Others come seeking a better education, or better futures for themselves and their families.
The reasons people emigrate are unique to each case. The benefits offered by a green card, such as allowing people to stay in the country permanently and be able to work legally, is attractive to many emigrants.
If you have entered the United States with the goal of becoming a permanent resident, talking to an experienced immigration lawyer is the best step you can take to understand your options. An attorney can teach you what you need to move forward in the process of receiving a green card.
Three Ways to Get a Green Card
The three main ways an immigrant can be granted a green card are:
Let’s see which one of the above would work best in your case.
Green Card Through Family
If you have a close relative who is an American citizen, they can petition for your permanent residency through a green card. This is often the quickest path to becoming a permanent resident. An immediate relative is defined as:
- A spouse
- Unmarried children who are under 21 years old
- Parents of U. S. citizens who are over 21 years old
Additionally, there are different preference categories for relatives of U. S. citizens or green card holders. These are:
- First preference for unmarried, adult children over age 21 of American citizens.
- Second preference (2A) for spouses of green card holders and unmarried children under 21 of permanent residents.
- Second preference (2B) for children over 21 of permanent residents.
- Third preference for married descendants of any age of American citizens.
- Fourth preference for siblings of adult U. S. citizens.
There are also particular circumstances, such as being a widow of a U. S. citizen, that can also make you a qualifying candidate. If you have what you believe is an unusual circumstance, consult with an immigration lawyer to determine if you qualify for a green card.
Green Card Through Your Employer
This option encompasses not only employer-sponsored green cards, but also opportunities through investments or specialized jobs or talents.
If you have received a job offer, your employer will have to get a labor certification from the Department of State to sponsor you. Investors can qualify when they meet certain criteria regarding the type of business they have, the money they invest, and the number of jobs they create.a
If you have extraordinary abilities, you may also be eligible to receive a green card for this reason.
Being a Refugee or Asylum Seeker
If you arrive in the United States seeking asylum or as a refugee, you can apply for a green card on your one-year anniversary of entering the country. This also applies to your family members. It is not required to apply for a green card, but if you are interested, you can submit an application. You can file for I-485 adjustment of status directly.