A Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a “Green Card.” You can become a permanent resident several different ways. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the United States. Other individuals may become permanent residents through refugee or asylee status or other humanitarian programs. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.
You may be eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) through your family, a job offer or employment, refugee or asylum status, or a number of other special provisions. In some cases, you may even be able to self-petition or have a record created for permanent residence on your behalf. In general, to meet the requirements for permanent residence in the United States, you must:
- Be eligible for one of the immigrant categories established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA);
- Have a qualifying immigrant petition filed and approved for you (with a few exceptions);
- Have an immigrant visa immediately available;
- Be admissible to the United States.
Eligibility for an Immigrant Category:
Individuals who want to become immigrants (permanent residents) through their qualified family member, a job offer or employment, or a special category will generally be classified in categories based on a preference system. Except for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen who are given the highest immigration priority and a few other exceptions, Congress has set a finite number of visas that can be used each year for each category of immigrants. The general categories are listed below. For more specific information under each general category, see the links to the left.
Some relatives of U.S. citizens, known as immediate relatives, do not have to wait for a visa to become available. There is no limit to the number of visas that can be utilized in this category in a particular year. Immediate relatives include:
- Parents of a U.S. citizen
- Spouses of a U.S. citizen
- Unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
Note: U.S. citizens must be at least 21 years old to apply for their parents.
The qualified relatives of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in the remaining family-based categories may have to wait for a visa to become available before they can apply for permanent residency. These categories include:
- First Preference: Unmarried, adult (21 years of age or older) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Second Preference A: Spouses of permanent residents and the unmarried children (under the age of 21)) of permanent residents.
- Second Preference B: Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or age or older) of permanent residents.
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.
Job or Employment Based
People who want to become immigrants based on employment or a job offer may apply for permanent residence or an immigrant visa abroad, when an immigrant visa number becomes available according to the following employment based preferences:
- First Preference: Priority Workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
- Second Preference: Members of professions holding an advanced degree or persons of exceptional ability (including individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver).
- Third Preference: Skilled Workers, professionals and other qualified workers.
- Fourth Preference: Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations.
- Fifth Preference: Employment creation immigrants (investors or entrepreneurs).
Based on Refugee or Asylum Status
If you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or the qualifying spouse or child of a refugee, you are required to apply for permanent residence (a green card) 1 year after your entry into the United States in this status. If you were granted asylum in the United States or are a qualifying spouse or child of an asylee, you may apply for permanent residence 1 year after the grant of your asylum status.
If you are a refugee, you are required by law to apply for a green card 1 year after being admitted to the United States in refugee status.
If you are an asylee or asylee derivative spouse or child, you are not required to apply for a green card 1 year after being granted asylum or 1 year after being admitted to the United States in asylum status, although it may be in your best interest to do so.
Although most immigrants come to live permanently in the United States through a family member’s sponsorship, employment, or a job offer, there are many other ways to get a green card. A number of special immigrant programs are limited to individuals meeting particular qualifications and/or applying during certain time frames.
The steps to becoming a Green Card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States. The main categories are:
- Green Card through Employment
- Green Card through Marriage
- Green Card through Family
- Green Card through a Job
- Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
If you are already a Green Card holder, we can assist you with the following:
- Renewing or replacing your Green Card
- Removing conditions on a Green Card
- Travel outside the United States
How we can help you:
At the Law Office of Moona Shakil, an experienced senior attorney would help preparing you on the Green Card process. Our immigration attorney would consult with you to discuss your options. Our mission is to provide prompt, high quality legal services to benefit the lives of our clients. We handle almost all types of immigration visas, and our attorneys understand that communication is a key to success. You need confidence that your lawyer understands your problem and is working with you to achieve results. Call us to find out how we provide superior service to our clients.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The use of the information on this website creates no attorney client relationship between the user and the Law Office of Moona Shakil, PLLC or its attorneys. There is no substitute for a face to face consultation with a lawyer. If you have legal questions, you must contact an experienced attorney immediately.