The Basics of Getting Your Green Card

  • Jun 16 2017

Someone who holds a Green Card is considered a Permanent Resident of the United States. There are several ways that you may be able to obtain a Green Card, and the method that you choose to apply will vary depending on your unique situation.

You must meet four requirements before you can qualify for a Green Card, regardless of the method.

  1. You must have a qualifying immigration petition filed and approved (with some exceptions).
  2. You must be admissible to the United States.
  3. There must be a visa available for your immediate use (as many visas are capped at a certain number on an annual basis).
  4. You must be eligible for one of the immigrant categories as set out by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The following information is meant to be a basic outline of potential methods to obtain a Green Card, but there may be other options as well. Contact us for an evaluation of your particular circumstances.

Family-Based Green Cards

Those who already have family members that are permanent residents or citizens of the United States may be able to apply for a family-based Green Card. There is no limit to the number of visas available for immediate family members. This category of individuals is given the highest priority available for a Green Card.

You must be an immediate relative to qualify. “Immediate relatives” include:

  • Spouses
  • Parents
  • Unmarried children under age 21

Other family members may also qualify, but they are limited to using visas as they become available.

Employment-Based Green Cards

Those who want to become citizens to work in the U.S. may be able to apply to become citizens while they are living outside of the United States. Those who have “extraordinary abilities” will have first preference. Those with advanced degrees are also more likely to be granted citizenship.

Refugee or Asylum Status

If you are considered a refugee or the spouse or child of a refugee, you may also be able to obtain a Green Card based on this status. You can apply one year after living in the United States as a refugee. The same requirements apply if you were granted asylum status as well.

Investor Green Cards

If you are an investor who plans to invest at least $500,000 in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the economy and add at least five full-time jobs in the U.S., then you may be able to qualify for a Green Card.

Adoption-Based Green Cards

Those who have been adopted by U.S. citizens or Green Card holders can apply for their own Green Card. The child who has been adopted must be under the age of 16 to apply.

Other Green Card Methods

There are several other ways that you may be able to obtain a Green Card, including:

  • Residence in the U.S. as a Foreign National since at least January 1, 1972
  • Diplomats that are unable or unwilling to return to their home country
  • Some religious-based workers
  • Former employees of the U.S. government
  • Retired Employees of International Organizations
  • Those who have won the Green Card Lottery

You may also be able to request permanent residency status on an individual basis. You can learn more about your options by calling 619-916-4570. Spanish services are available.

Posted in: Immigration Law