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Legal Permanent Residency (Green Card)

A Green Card allows you to live and work permanently in the U.S. There are various ways that an individual may qualify for a green card. Some of those ways are:

Marriage-Based Immigration
A marriage-based immigration petition is based on marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse if the foreign national entered the U.S. on a valid non-immigrant visa (such as a tourist visa, student visa or temporary worker visa), a border crossing card, or under the Visa Waiver Program.

Family-Based Immigration
Eligibility for family-based Immigration is available for the following individuals:

  • 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), an nonimmigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, an nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen

Employment-Based Immigration
An individual may immigrate to the U.S. based on a job offer or employment.

  • 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
    • Broadcaster
    • International Organization Employee
    • Iraqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government
    • NATO-6 Nonimmigrant
    • Panama Canal Employee
    • Physician National Interest Waiver
    • Religious Worker

Diversity Visa Lottery Program (“Green-Card Lottery”):
The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). 50,000 immigrant visas are available annually through this program for countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Lottery winners are selected randomly among all entries, and are given a green card upon entry to the U.S. Most lottery winners reside outside the United States and immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa, while others are in the U.S. and can adjust status from within the U.S.

Refugee or asylum status may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Refugee status is given generally to individuals living outside the U.S. and who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. Individuals seeking refugee status should contact their local Embassy or the UNHCR in their country for assistance in the application process.

Asylum is available for individuals already inside the U.S., regardless of country of origin or immigration status. It must be applied for within one year of entry into the U.S. If an individual qualifies for asylum, an application may be filed affirmatively with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or defensively with the Immigration Court. If granted, asylees are eligible to apply for legal permanent residence after one year.