Having a Green Card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card) allows you to live and work permanently in the United States. The steps you must take to apply for a Green Card will vary depending on your individual situation.
Green Card Through Family
If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) based on your family relationship if you meet certain eligibility requirements
- Green Card for a Family Member of a Permanent Resident
- Green Card for Family Member of a U.S. Citizen
- Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen
- Green Card Through a Special Categories of Family
Green Card Through Job
U.S. immigration law provides foreign nationals with a variety of ways to become lawful permanent residents (get a Green Card) through employment in the United States.
- Green Card through a Job
- Green Card through a Job Offer
- Green Card through Investment
- Green Card through Self-Petition
- Green Card through Registry
- Green Card through Special Categories
Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status
U.S. immigration law allows asylees to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after they have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year since being granted asylum.
- Green Card for a Refugee
- Green Card for an Asylee
- Green Card through Refugee or Asylee
Victim of Trafficking
The T nonimmigrant status (also known as the T visa) provides immigration protection to victims of severe forms of human trafficking. The T visa also allows victims to remain in the United States and assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases.
Green Card for a Crime Victim
The U nonimmigrant status (also known as the U visa) is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) Status
In 1990, Congress created Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status. In 2008, the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act made changes to the eligibility requirements for SIJ status and streamlined certain SIJ procedures. SIJ status is designed for non-U.S. citizen children in the United States who do not have permanent residence and have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents. For a child to be eligible, a U.S. state juvenile court must: make the child dependent on the court (or place the child under the legal custody of a state agency or other individual appointed by the state); declare that the child cannot be reunited with one or both of his or her parents due to abuse, abandonment or neglect; and declare that it is not in the best interests of the child to be returned to his country of citizenship. (The term “juvenile court” is a court located in the United States having jurisdiction under state law to make judicial determinations about the custody and care of juveniles. The exact name of juvenile courts can differ from state to state.)
The purpose of the SIJ program is to help foreign children in the United States who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected.
Certain children who are unable to be reunited with a parent can get a green card as a SIJ. Children who get a green card through the SIJ program can live and work permanently in the United States
Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card Lottery)
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).Most lottery winners reside outside the United States and immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa.
The K-visa categories for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their accompanying minor children (K-1 and K-2 visas) were created to speed up the immigration process for such individuals so they could travel more quickly to the United States.
By allowing a fiancé(e) and his/her accompanying minor children to be admitted to the United States as nonimmigrants, fiancé(e)s can be spared a long separation from their intended spouse, while continuing their processing for an immigrant visa after the marriage takes place.
U.S. citizen fiancé(e)s file for their intended spouse on Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).
Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act
The Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act amendments of 2000 added the K-3 visa category for foreign spouses and K-4 category for stepchildren of U.S. citizens. Due to a backlog of immigrant visa petitions (Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) at that time, a long separation could occur between the overseas fiancé(e) and their intended U.S. citizen spouse. To prevent a long separation, U.S. citizens were allowed to file an additional petition on Form I-129F while their Form I-130 was pending to allow their foreign spouses and his/her minor children to come to the United States as nonimmigrants in an expedited manner.
The LIFE Act requires applicants to apply for a K-3 visa in the country where their marriage to the U.S. citizen petitioner occurred, or in the event the petitioner and applicant were married in the United States, the country of the applicant’s current residence. After arrival in the United States, they could then complete their processing for permanent residence.