Green Card: A green card (immigrant Visa) allows a foreign national to live and work permanently in the U.S. By being granted a green card, an individual becomes a "Legal Permanent Resident of the U.S."
Family Based Immigration
Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens:
These individuals are eligible for immigrant visas without having to wait for a visa number to become available. Immediate relative only includes spouses, parents and unmarried children under the age of 21.
For those qualifying family members who are not immediate relatives, only a limited number of immigrant visas may be issued each year. There may be long waiting lists for each preference category. These categories are:
|1)||Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens (21 years of age or older)|
|2) a.||Spouses and Children of Legal Permanent Residents (21 years of age or older)|
|2) b.||Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents (21 years of age or older)|
|3)||Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens (21 years of age or older)|
|4)||Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens|
Employment Based Immigration
Like the family based preferences above, only a limited number of immigrant visas may be issued each year for each employment based preference . Waiting lists may develop for each preference category. These categories are:
EB-1: Foreign Nationals of Extraordinary Ability / Outstanding Professors and Researchers / Multinational Executives and Managers.
Individuals in this category can petition for permanent residency without having to go through the time consuming labor certification process, and in some case without even having a job offer.
EB-2: Workers with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business.
This category requires the potential employer to obtain an approved Labor Certification from the Department of Labor. This process involves a testing of the job market to demonstrate that the potential foreign employee will not be taking a job away from a U.S. worker. Additionally, the potential employee must normally have a job offer.
EB-3: Skilled Workers and Professionals.
Like the EB-2, this category also requires an approved Labor Certification and a job offer. However, there is often a longer waiting list for visas in this category.
EB-4: Special Immigrant Visas for Religious Workers.
In order to qualify for permanent resident status, the visa holder must have been working in a religious capacity for two years before applying.
EB-5: Investor/Employment Creation Visas.
The EB-5 confers permanent resident status based upon a qualifying investment. The standards for the EB-5 are far more demanding than for the E-2 non-immigrant investor visa.
To qualify, an individual must invest in a new commercial enterprise and create employment for ten U.S. workers. The investment must be at least $500,000 if in a targeted employment area (rural areas or areas experiencing high unemployment of at least 150% of the national average) or $1,000,000 anywhere else.
Diversity Visa or Green Card Lottery.
A random drawing of qualified applicants is conducted each year to ensure the U.S. is represented by immigrants from a diverse group of countries. This is known as the Diversity Visa Lottery or Green Card Lottery.
Refugee and Asylum Applications.
Persons unable to return to their home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion may be eligible to apply for asylum or refugee status in the U.S. This status allows the individual to live and work in the U.S. After one year, permanent resident status may be applied for.