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How To Get Green Card - How To Get A Green Card

family sponsorship - job or investment - refugee or asylum status - other ways -

A permanent resident card, most commonly referred to as a “green card”, grants anyone not born in the United States the authorization to live, work or study in the country as they wish with the same rights as an American citizen. While a person who has been granted a green card is required to be a permanent U.S. resident, it does not affect affect the citizenship status of their native country. There are certain conditions and categories applied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that must be met to qualify for and obtain a green card. The following categories explain the major ways a person can get a green card.

Family Sponsorship -

One of the most common ways people get a green card is through sponsorship by a family member. The United States allows both citizens and permanent residents the right to petition for certain foreign-born relatives to come and live in the country on a permanent basis. There are two major ways of getting a green card through family sponsorship. One way is for family members who are already in the United States that may qualify for an adjustment to permanent resident status without the need to return to their home country. The other way is for relatives who reside in a country other than the United States that may be eligible for consular processing through a governmental agency that has jurisdiction within a relative’s foreign place of residence. In both cases, there are specific forms and proofs of identification that must be provided to the USCIS before a green card will be issued.

Someone may also be able to get a green card through special categories of families that include being a battered child or spouse of a U.S. citizen, entering the country as a fiancee or spouse of a U.S. citizen or being the widower of a U.S. citizen. While it is possible to get a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, the USCIS has made this option a very regulated and time consuming process.

Job or Investment -

A person may be eligible for a green card through the offer of permanent employment in the U.S. However, some labor categories require a certification to show that there are not enough U.S. workers available in the location an immigrant will be employed. Unless someone is eligible to petition for themselves, most employment positions require that the employer petition for the worker. Entrepreneurs are also eligible for green cards if they make an investment of at least $500,000 in a commercial enterprise in the United States.

Refugee or Asylum Status -

Green cards are offered to to anyone who is admitted to the United States as a refugee, someone who is seeking asylum or as a qualifying family member of either category. Refugees must apply for a permanent resident status one year after entering the country. Those seeking asylum are eligible one year after the formal grant of an asylum status.

Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery -

Green cards are made available each year by the Department of State through a random lottery that is open to people who come from countries with low immigration to the United States. When a person is awarded a lottery slot it also includes the acceptance of a spouse and children under the age of 21, provided the children are unmarried. Applications are only accepted electronically and there are many countries where citizens are not eligible because these countries have already sent the maximum number of immigrants allowed to the United States within the previous five years.

Other Ways -

There are also 16 other ways to get a green card that range from special qualifications based upon the country of birth to being a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States. These special adjustment programs have very stringent guidelines and some can only be applied for during limited time frames.

In some cases, green card holders may be subject to a conditional residence status for at least a two year period. More detailed information on how to get a green card and/or change a conditional residence status can be found on the USCIS website.

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