How to get a Green Card?

A Green Card allows you to work and live in the U.S. indefinitely. For millions of people who wish to come to the United States to live and prosper, getting a Green Card remains the single most important goal.

Even though a lot of people apply for a Green Card the number of Green Cards granted remains low because of the immigration laws of the United States.

Now that you know the rarity to get a Green Card let’s look at different ways to get a Green Card. You can learn a lot about getting a Green Card through each specific process by following the links given in each section.

But before we jump into the topic in detail, let us learn a few basic things about the Green Card.

There are two types of Green Cards which are Permanent and Conditional. The type of Green Card you get depends on the process through which you get your Green Card.

Permanent Green Card

A permanent Green Card is provided to lawful permanent residents and it comes with a 10 year validity. So sometimes it is also referred to as a 10 year Green Card. Before it expires the Green Card needs to be renewed. A permanent Green Card holder can also apply for U.S citizenship if eligible.

Conditional Green Card

A conditional Green Card is provided to conditional lawful permanent residents and it comes with 2 year validity. It is also called a 2-year Green Card. A 2 year Green Card cannot be renewed. The 2 year Green Card should be converted to a 10-year Green Card. This process is called removing conditions on residence. Failing to do so will remove the person from the residency status.

Now that we have established there are two types of Green Card, let’s understand different ways to get it.

There are many categories through which you can get a Green Card. Most of the categories will help you get a 10 year Green Card and only a few categories will help you in getting a 2-year Green Card.

The type of Green Card received also varies based on the process you apply.

We will take a quick look over the different categories. Below is the list of all major categories through which you can get a Green Card.

  • Green Card through Family
  • Green Card through Marriage
  • Green Card through Employment
  • Green Card as a Special Immigrant
  • Green Card through Refugee or Asylee status
  • Green Card for Human trafficking and Crime Victims
  • Green Card for Victims of Abuse
  • Green Card through Registry
  • Green Card through Green Card Lottery

Green Card through Family

If you are a family member of a U.S. Citizen or a Green Card holder, you might be eligible to apply for a Green Card.

The process to apply for a Green Card depends on the relationship between you and the U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, your immigration status and where you currently are.

The general process begins with the U.S. citizen or Green Card holder applying Form I-130 for you if you are outside the U.S.. This Form I-130 is to petition for an alien relative to help immigrate to the United States. This doesn’t grant you a Green Card but it is the start of the process.

In some cases if you are already in the U.S. in a lawful immigration status then you might be eligible to adjust your status to get a Green Card. This process does not require a I-130 petition.

It can take anywhere between a few weeks to years to get a Green Card through family. This also depends on multiple factors.

Green Card through marriage

Green Card through marriage is one of the fastest ways to get a Green Card. If you are married or going to marry a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder then you might be eligible to get a Green Card.

The process to get a Green Card varies vastly and it depends on multiple factors. Here is a list of different scenarios that require different processes.

  1. You already married a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder and you are in the U.S. with a legal immigration status.
  2. You already married a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder and you are outside the U.S.
  3. You are marrying a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder and your marriage is set to happen in the U.S.
  4. You are marrying a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder and your marriage is set to happen outside the U.S.

Generally 2 year Green Cards are issued to people who apply for Green Card through marriage. Spouses of U.S. citizens are treated as immediate family members which can lead to shorter time to get a Green Card.

Green Card through Employment

A lot of people come to work in the U.S. each year. Certain employment categories can help you get a Green Card.

It typically involves an employer who is in the United States sponsoring you for a Green Card.

Similar to every other category the process to get a Green Card varies here as well.

Green Card through Investment

U.S. immigration laws allow people to get a Green Card based on investment in the U.S.

Similar to Green Card through marriage this method of applying to get a Green Card usually results in getting a conditional Green Card.

Green Card as a Special Immigrant

You can qualify for a Green Card as a special immigrant under the USCIS special immigrant program.

The children and spouses of the special immigrants are often granted lawful permanent resident status (LPR) along with the primary applicant.

Like every other method there are different categories that come under this special immigrant program.

Green Card through Asylee or Refugee status

Asylees are those who live inside the United States or at the port of entry who are unable or unwilling to return to their country of nationality or they seek the protection of U.S. because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.

If you are an asylee and you are granted asylum by the U.S., you can live in the U.S. without fear of deportation and one year after your asylum status is granted, you will be eligible to apply for a Green Card (Permanent Resident Card).

Refugees are the ones who live outside the United States and seek protection because of persecution or fear of persecution due to certain factors.

If you are a refugee and granted refugee status, you will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for a Green Card.

Green Card for Human trafficking and Crime victims

If you are a victim of human trafficking or a victim of a Crime and have been given a T visa or a U visa then you might be eligible to get a Green Card.

Green Card through Registry

Registry is a section of immigration law. If you have been present in the United States since Jan 1, 1972, you may be eligible to apply for a Green card even if you are currently in the United States unlawfully.

The statutory provision on the registry originated in the act of March 2, 1929. This act enables you to acquire permanent residence status even if you are not authorized to live in the United States. The provision has been reviewed and revised periodically since 1929, most commonly to advance the required date from which continuous residence must be established.

Green Card through DV-Lottery

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is also known as the Green Card Lottery. The U.S. government grants 50,000 permanent resident visas to people who win the Green Card Lottery. This is also one of the fastest and the easiest way to get a Green Card. Millions apply for this lottery every year. This lottery usually runs in November.