7 Ways to Obtain a Green Card in the USA
1. Marry Your Way In
To be eligible to get a green card this way, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by an immediate relative who is at least 21 years of age and is either a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident. Marriage is a common way this is done, but the marriage must be genuine and not simply undertaken for immigration purposes—the intent is critical.
Generally speaking, there are two types of family-based immigrant visas:
Immediate Relatives – these visas are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen, such as a spouse, child, or parent. The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited to each fiscal year. Processing is done expeditiously—usually taking, say, around a year or so.
Family Preference – these visas are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and certain specified relationships with a lawful permanent resident. The number of immigrants in these categories is limited each fiscal year. Processing takes longer, usually for years—sometimes decades.
2. Invest Your Way In
The EB-5 direct investor program currently enables investor immigrants to get green cards by investing as little as $ 500,000 in their businesses, provided they create ten new jobs. This opportunity is temporary and is likely to close by the end of the year, with the amount required likely to go up to $ 900,000 as it was before. A regional center variation of this program is currently closed and awaiting reopening by Congress.
3. Transfer Your Way In
Think Toyota sends its Tokyo manager to New York to manage its New York Office. That is a classic example of an inter-corporate transfer that can result in a green card. Your petitioning employer must be a U.S. employer and intend to employ you in a managerial or executive capacity. The petitioner must have been doing business in the U.S. for at least one year as a legal entity with a qualifying relationship to the entity that employed you abroad in a managerial or executive capacity. No labor certification is required, so this is a highly desirable way to get a green card.
4. Study Your Way In
Get a student visa to study at a U.S. college to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree. That will entitle you to a one-year post-graduate work permit called Optional Practical Training. Following the one year, get your boss to apply for an H1B work visa for you. Then, get the boss to apply for labor certification from the Department of Labor, evidencing that there are no American workers who are ready, willing, and able to take the job. Then apply for a green card through the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. This is a long and winding road, full of agony, but it may be the only option for many applicants, especially those with skills but little money to invest and no family in the USA.
5. Work Your Way In
Either apply for an H1B work visa and then get a green card through labor certification described in the student example, or apply for an EB-2 extraordinary worker green card based on a national interest waiver.
H-1B applicants who perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability can then obtain green cards if their employer will apply for labor certification and then sponsor them for a green card. Again, this is an arduous route starting with a lottery in most H1B cases and limited in numbers per year. If the job is related to a college, nonprofit affiliated with a college, a nonprofit or U.S. governmental research organization, or an organization that requires the H-1B employee to work at one of these first three categories of employers, however, there is no limit in terms of numbers. That said, an H1B visa route is the least desirable way to get a green card because it is so complicated.
The beauty of an EB-2 application is you can self-petition for a green card, and you are not reliant on a job offer. In addition to providing evidence of an advanced degree or exceptional ability, you must also meet the national interest waiver criteria, namely that the proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance, you are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, and it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the normal requirements of a job offer, that is to say, a labor certification. In addition, certain nurses and physiotherapists can take this route to a green card without labor certification if offered a job in those professions.
6. Achieve Your Way In
Walk in the footsteps of international achievers like Drake or Ryan Renolds who can get green cards because of their achievements. These usually involve individuals who have won internationally recognized awards like an Oscar, Grammy, or Pulitzer Prize or have risen to the very top of their profession or calling. Generally speaking, such extraordinary ability applicants are celebrities in their field.
7. Win Your Way In
Apply for a green card under the annual Diversity Green Card Lottery where 55,000 applicants are picked to apply to come to the U.S. These are applicants from countries that are under-represented in terms of immigrants coming to America—countries like Estonia, Fiji, or Ukraine, for example.
If an applicant does not fit into any of these ways, sometimes a spouse may have the required credentials. Either way, the immediate family members of the applicant also get green cards in the process. The descriptions above are very general—any option chosen should be further researched to nail down all the details involved.