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 Family
• Green Card Through a Job
• Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status
Many people get Green Cards (become permanent residents) through family members. You may be eligible to get a Green Card as:
• an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, this includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
• a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category, this includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
• a family member of a green card holder, this includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring green card holder
• a member of a special category, this can include battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K nonimmigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
The main ways to immigrate based on a job offer or employment are listed below:
Green Card Through a Job Offer: You may be eligible to become a permanent resident based on an offer of permanent employment in the United States. Most categories require an employer to get a labor certification and then file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for you.
Green Card Through Investment: Green cards may be available to investors/entrepreneurs who are making an investment in an enterprise that creates new U.S. jobs.
Green Card Through Self Petition: Some immigrant categories allow you to file for yourself (“self-petition”). This option is available for either “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” or certain individuals granted a National Interest Waiver.
Green Card Through Special Categories of Jobs: There are a number of specialized jobs that may allow you to get a green card based on a past or current job, such as:
• Afghan/Iraqi Translator
• International Organization Employee
• Iraqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government
• NATO-6 Nonimmigrant
• Panama Canal Employee
• Physician National Interest Waiver
• Religious Worker
Refugees and asylees can apply for a green card.
If you were
Then you may apply for permanent residence
admitted to the United States as:
1 year after your entry into the United States
granted asylum in the United States
1 year after the grant of your asylum status
Note: As a refugee, you are required by law to apply for permanent resident status 1 year after being admitted to the United States. As an asylee, you are not required to apply for permanent resident status after being granted asylum for 1 year, although it may be in your best interest to do so.
• Who is a Green Card Holder (Permanent Resident)?
• 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.