The coveted green card is your ticket to becoming a permanent resident of the US, giving you the right to live, work, enter and exit the US—and one day apply for citizenship.
Green cards are given out based on a variety of factors. Let’s go over the main categories of green card eligibility—and by the end of this article, you should know whether or not it’s time to begin your green card application.
Immediate Relatives of United States Citizens
When it comes to getting your green card quickly, being a close relative of a US citizen is one of the easiest paths forward. This includes:
- Spouses of United States citizens (both same- and opposite-sex), as well as recent widowers and widows
- Unmarried applicants younger than 21 years old who have at least one US citizen parent
- Applicants with a US citizen child who is at least 21 years old
- Both stepparents and stepchildren of US citizens, as long as the marriage creating the relationship happened prior to the child’s 18th birthday
- The adopted children of both permanent residents and US citizens, as long as the adoption happened before the child’s 16th birthday
It’s worth noting that there are an unlimited amount of green cards available for this category.
Other Family Members
Outside of immediate family members, there is still a path to citizenship for so-called “preference categories” of applicants, although there are a limited number of these green cards given out each year.
This procedure is first come, first served, so apply as soon as possible!
The categories for these visas are as follows:
- First Preference: Unmarried adults, 21 years old or more, with one or more US citizen parents
- Second Preference: Unmarried children and spouses of green card holders, if the children are less than 21 years old, and unmarried children of green card holders, 21+ years old
- Third Preference: Married people of any age who have one or more United States citizen parents
- Fourth Preference: Siblings of US citizens who are 21 years old or more
Employees and Workers
A smaller amount of green cards (140,000) are provided each year for people with necessary job skills for the United States market. In a majority of these cases, a job offer is required, too. In these cases your employer has to prove that they were unable to find US citizens who were able, willing, and qualified to perform the work already.
Applicants for this category can wait years for a decision, and are considered on the basis of four preference subcategories:
- First Preference: those with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, athletics, education or business, professors and researchers, and both executives and managers of multinationals
- Second Preference: Professionals with exceptional ability or advanced degrees
- Third Preference: Professionals, both skilled and unskilled workers
- Fourth Preference: Religious workers and other miscellaneous categories
- Fifth Preference: Investors who will either invest $1 million into US businesses, or $500,000 into a business in an area deemed economically depressed
Green Card Ethnic Diversity Lottery
A relatively small number of green cards are available for people from countries who don’t commonly immigrate to the US—however, this program is currently being targeted for removal by the government, and its future is uncertain.
This category frequently changes, but offers green cards to immigrants with very specific backgrounds and extraordinary circumstances.
If you think you fall into this category—or you’re ready to start your green card application right away—get in touch with us ASAP. We’ve helped hundreds of people just like you achieve their dreams of becoming a permanent resident of the US quickly, painlessly, and for less money than our competitors.
Don’t wait another second—the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll see results! Contact us as we are the nations top immigration lawyer in our opinion 😉