A green card is the official identification card issued to foreign nationals by the U.S. Immigration Service (USCIS). Through green card services, a green card holder is granted permanent residency in the United States. A green card is also known as a Permanent Resident Card or form I-551.
Ways to Obtain a U.S. Green Card
1. Employment-Based Green Card
With an employment-based green card, you have the opportunity to gain employment in the U.S. To acquire an employment-based green card, the USCIS requires verification that an employer intends to hire the applicant to fill a position in the U.S. long-term.
There are three basic steps to obtain a green card via employment. First, the applicant must complete labor certification via PERM, or the Program Electronic Review Management system. Next, the employer must file an immigrant petition on the applicant’s behalf. Finally, the employee can apply for adjustment of status or consular processing to secure a green card.
2. Family-Based Green Card
If you have an immediate family member who is a green card holder or U.S. citizen, a family-based green card may be a viable option. This only applies to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, such as parents, spouses, and children.
To obtain a family-based green card, form I-130 must be filed by the relative who will be sponsoring the foreign relative. There are a number of benefits to choosing family-based green card services, such as the ability to bypass the waiting period to be eligible for a visa.
3. Green Card Lottery
Another way to obtain a green card is by winning one. The “Green Card Lottery,” also known as Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, is a program that is mandated under Section 203 of the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990. Each year, the green card lottery program offers a random selection of 50,000 permanent resident immigrant visas.
Interested parties can only submit one application during a green card lottery year and applicants must include a passport-style digital photograph and separate photographs of children and any spouse. Mail-in requests and paper entries are not accepted.
4. Other Ways to Get a Green Card
- Green card for special immigrants — e.g. religious workers for legitimate religious organizations, former employees of the Panama Canal Zone, international broadcasting employees, foreign medical graduates in the U.S. since 1978, etc.
- Green card for political asylum and refuge. This includes refuge for people who have experienced fear or persecution in their home country.
- Green card for temporary protected status. The U.S. government offers citizens of some countries a temporary stay in the U.S. when conditions in their homeland are considered dangerous.
- Green card for amnesty for aliens living in the U.S. illegally since January 1, 1982.
- Green card for special agricultural workers who have worked in the fields between May 1, 1985 and May 1, 1986 for a minimum of 90 days.
- Green card for long-term residents. This includes individuals who have lived in the U.S. illegally for more than ten years.
The process of obtaining a green card can be long and complex. For help throughout the process, contact an experienced immigration lawyer.