What Types of Green Cards Are Available in the United States?
Foreign nationals who want permanent residence in the United States may be eligible to get a green card in each of the following categories:
- Green Card through Family.
- Green Card through Employment.
- Green Card as a Special Immigrant.
- Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status.
- Green Card for Trafficking and Crime Victims.
- Green Card for Victims of Abuse.
- Green Card through Other Categories.
- Green Card through Registry.
Getting a Green Card through Family
Most cards in the United States are obtained based on familial relationships. To get a green card through your family, you must have the following requirements:
- Be the immediate family member of a U.S. citizen (spouse, an unmarried child under 21, or a parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21)
- Be a non-immediate family member of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident under certain family-based preference categories, including:
- Being a family member of a U.S. citizen, such as an unmarried child over 21, a married child, or a sibling of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21
- Being a family member of a lawful permanent resident, as the spouse of a lawful permanent resident, an unmarried child under 21 of a lawful permanent resident, or an unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident who is at least 21
- Be a fiancé of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé’s child (Fiancés apply for a green card after getting married in the U.S.)
- Be a widower of a U.S. citizen
- Be a Violence Against Women Act victim of battery or extreme cruelty, as an abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, an abused child (under 21) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or an abused parent of a U.S. citizen
Getting A Green Card through Employment
Many foreign nationals want to live and work in the United States, but do not want to be subject to certain employment visa restrictions such the inability to change jobs or a maximum validity period. Certain non-citizens are eligible for green cards based on their employment status.
Green cards based on employment are given first, second, and third preference based on different categories. To get a green card as a first preference immigrant worker, you must:
- Have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, or education;
- Be an outstanding professor or researcher; or
- Be a multinational executive or manager with certain criteria
To receive this card as a second preference immigrant worker, you must:
- Be a professional with an advanced degree;
- Have exceptional skills in the sciences, arts, or business; or
- Be seeking a national interest waiver
To receive this card as a third preference immigrant worker, you must:
- Be a skilled worker (your job requires at least two years of training or work experience),
- Be a professional (your job requires at least a bachelor’s degree, and you are a member of the profession), or
- Be an unskilled worker (your job requires less than two years of training or experience)
In addition to the immigrant worker’s green card, another employment-related green card is the Physician National Interest Waiver green card. Physicians who work full-time in clinical practice in a designated underserved area may obtain this type of green card if they meet other requirements.
Finally, these documents are also available to immigrant investors who invest at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) for a new business that will create jobs for at least ten full-time employees.
Obtaining a Green Card as a Special Immigrant
As a matter of public policy and based on humanitarian concerns, the U.S. government has determined that certain foreign nationals should be allowed to obtain green cards. The following people are eligible for a green card based on their status as a special immigrant:
- Religious workers (religious denomination members working for a nonprofit organization)
- Special Immigrant Juvenile (juveniles who need court protection because a parent has abused, abandoned, or neglected them)
- Afghanistan or Iraqi National (Afghan or Iraqi translators working for the U.S. government, Iraqi nationals who worked for the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, for at least a year, Afghan nationals employed by the U.S. government or International Security Assistance Force)
- International Broadcaster (members of the media for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and USAGM grantees)
- An employee of an International Organization or Family Member or NATO- employee or family member (retired officers or employees of NATO or another eligible international organization, the person’s family members)
Getting a Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
- Refugees (persons who were admitted as refugees after having one year of physical presence in the U.S.)
- Asylees (persons who were granted asylum within one year of entering the U.S. can apply a year after being granted asylum status)
Green Cards for Trafficking and Crime Victims
The following human trafficking and crime victims are eligible for green cards:
- Human trafficking victims who have already obtained a T nonimmigrant visa
- Crime victims who have already obtained a U nonimmigrant visa
Green Cards for Victims of Abuse
The U.S. government offers green cards for certain abuse victims, including the following:
- Victims of battery or extreme cruelty who have filed petitions under the Violence Against Women Act
- Special Immigrant Juveniles (certain children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent)
- Abused spouses or children under the Cuban Adjustment Act (abused spouses and children of a Cuban citizen or native)
- Abused spouses or children under the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (abused spouses or children of a lawful permanent resident who received a green card under the Act)
Getting a Green Card through Registry
Certain persons are eligible for a green card if they’ve continuously resided in the United States since or before January 1, 1972.
Getting a Green Card through Other Categories
Finally, green cards are also issued under various other categories:
- Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (for Liberian nationals who have been in the United States since November 20, 2014, or are the spouse, child under 21, or unmarried child over 21 of a qualifying Liberian national)
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (allowing a certain number of immigrant visas to be granted in a random drawing each year by the Department of State, for immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States)
- Cuban Adjustment Act (for Cuban natives or citizens or the spouse or child of a Cuban native or citizen)
- Dependent Status under the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (for children or spouses of a lawful permanent resident who received a green card under the Act)
- Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act of 2000 (for certain citizens of Vietnam, Kampuchea (Cambodia), or Laos paroled into the United States on or before October 1, 1997)
- American Indian Born in Canada (for persons born in Canada with at least 50 percent American-Indian blood and who reside in the United States)
- Persons born in the United States to a Foreign Diplomat (persons born in the United States to a foreign diplomat during the diplomat’s station in the United States)
- Section 13 Diplomat (for persons stationed in the United States as a diplomat and unable to return to their home country
Questions About Obtaining a Green Card?
Our team of knowledgeable lawyers at Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC have years of experience helping our clients obtain green cards.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you.
Read more about Green Cards here.