Top Ways to Get Your Green Card in The United States

A foreign citizen seeking to live permanently in the United States requires an immigrant visa. This is sometimes called getting a green card. Here are the seven best ways to get your green card in the United States.

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—intent is key.

Actually, speaking more generally about this way of immigrating, 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 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.

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.

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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 1 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.

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 who have skills but little money to invest and no family in the USA.

Work Your Way In Either apply for an H1B work visa and then get a green card through labor certification as 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, a 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.

Achieve Your Way In:  Follow the path 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.

Win Your Way In: Apply for a green card under the annual Diversity Green Card Lottery where 55,000 applicants are chosen 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 one 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 so chosen should be further researched to nail down all the details involved

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How to Get a Green Card in the USA Without Marriage

As a foreign national, there are several ways through which you can become a U.S. green card holder and lawfully live and work permanently. On this page, though, we will show you how to get a green card in the USA without marriage.

Broadly speaking, green card eligibility can be categorized into three different groups. The first one is family-based green cards for spouses, parents, siblings, and dependent children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The second category is employment-based green cards. The third category is known as a special immigrant green card.

How to Get Green Card in the USA Without Marriage?: The marriage-based green card is one of the most popular routes to becoming a U.S. permanent resident. But since not all immigrant visa applicants have marriage ties to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, foreign nationals with the right skill sets, competence, special abilities, and outstanding academic qualifications are given a chance to live and work permanently in the U.S. using several different methods, starting with employment-based immigrant visas.

Options for getting a green card without a marriage chart

Employment-Based Green Card
Each year, tens of thousands of employment-based green cards are issued to foreign nationals. In 2016 alone, a total of 140,000 employment-based green cards were issued under various categories of EB immigrant visas. Typically, employment-based green cards are given to foreign nationals who have job offers from a U.S. employer. Most of these green cards are sponsored by employers or prospective employers.

Both foreign nationals who are already in the U.S. or are outside the U.S. may file for an employment-based visa if they are already working for an employer or they have received a job offer from a prospective employer. The employer will be the one to file the petition on behalf of the employee.

Employment-based visas are subdivided into four different preferences popularly known as EB-1 (first preference), EB-2 (second preference), EB-3 (third preference), and EB-4 (fourth preference). Each of these subcategories has different requirements. Some require that you possess extraordinary skills or advanced degrees while others are meant for skilled and unskilled workers.

Company Transfer Green Card: The U.S. immigration system allows for foreign employees to transfer to their company’s U.S. office and live in the country. So, for example, if you are employed by a multinational corporation in Vietnam and you are offered a job in Los Angeles at the same company, you may be eligible to work and live in the U.S.

To do so, you must be eligible for the L-1 Intra Company Transfer visa. You must hold a position as a:

Manager or executive in the company; or
Have specialized knowledge

Once you have your L-1 visa and have worked for your company in the U.S. for at least 1 year, you can apply for a green card, which would give you permanent residency. You could apply for EB-2, EB-2 (NIW), or EB-3 green card. In some cases, you would have to ask your employer to sponsor your green card.

Investment-Based Green Card: The EB-5 Investor green card is another immigrant option for foreign nationals. This green card is for foreign entrepreneurs who are willing to invest at least $1 million or $500,000 in a U.S. enterprise. If you have the required minimum investment amount, this might be your best bet because you wouldn’t need to wait for a job offer in the U.S. However, it is important to note that the money must be invested in an approved EB-5 business. It must also provide or preserve at least 10 U.S. jobs.

Special Immigrants Green Card: If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for a marriage-based or employment-based green card, you may be qualified to apply as a special immigrant. This is another route to getting a green card in the USA without marriage. To qualify for this category, you must be one of the following:

Religious worker
Special immigrant juvenile
International broadcaster

Afghan or Iraqi national who has served as a translator for the U.S. government, an Iraqi who is employed by the U.S. government on or after March 20, 2003, or an Afghan who is employed by ISAF
An employee (or family member of an employee) of an international organization, a member of or NATO-6
Education Green Card
It is also possible to obtain a green card by being a student in the U.S. For this, you must have finished a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the U.S. If you have done so, you will become eligible for Optional Practical training, which is essentially a 1-year work permit for post-graduates.

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At that point, you should secure a job, preferably in your field, and work for that company for 1 year on your work permit. After that 1 year, you can ask your employer to sponsor your H-1B visa. The process would involve your employer obtaining labor certification along with submitting numerous forms and providing the necessary evidence. In the end, if you are granted an H-1B visa you will be able to stay in the U.S. on a permanent basis.

This process is definitely complicated and has many variables in it. It also largely depends on your personal situation, education, job market, and finances. However, for many international students getting their post-graduate degree in the U.S., this could be the only option for securing a green card.

Family-Based Green Card: You can also gain a green card through your family relationships in the U.S. Although the first thing that might come to your mind is “marriage,” there are other types of family relationships that would also qualify. For example, you could be eligible for a family-based green card if:

You are an unmarried child of a U.S. citizen that’s under 21 years of age; or
You are an orphan adopted, in the U.S or abroad, by a U.S. citizen; or
You are a parent of a U.S. citizen that is over 21 years of age
As you can see, getting a green card in USA without marriage is a very viable option for many family members!

Other Green Card Categories: You may be eligible to apply for a U.S. green card if you have been living in the U.S. as an asylee or refugee for the past one year. You may also be qualified to apply for a green card if you currently have either a T or U nonimmigrant visa.

Diversity Immigrant Visa: The diversity program has up to 55,000 immigrant visas available annually for foreign nationals whose countries have low rates of permanent residency applications to the United States.

This lottery, as its name implies, mostly depends on luck, which may limit your chances of being chosen. And if you are lucky enough to win, you will need to undergo a series of processes that may take years before you can eventually become a permanent resident. It also requires that you have the education and job qualifications for the program.

Regardless of the rigor, however, it remains a good option, especially if you do not qualify for the other visa categories. Every year, many foreign nationals who are already living in the U.S. leverage this option to adjust from a nonimmigrant status to a permanent resident, and many who apply from outside the U.S. can also take advantage of the diversity lottery.

Green Card Without Marriage: What to Consider: If the marriage-based immigrant visa is not an option, this means you are left with either employment-based, investment, or special immigrant categories. Before you apply for any of these categories, you will need to consider your area of interest through the lens of the USCIS requirements.

For employment-based visas, your skill set, academic qualifications, unique abilities, job experience, and other things that demonstrate your competence will determine whether you will qualify. Additionally, if you are applying for the special immigrant category, you will need to ensure you meet the conditions stated above.

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Application Process: How to Get a Green Card in USA Without Marriage: The requirements for filing a green card application vary widely depending on the category. However, the following are some of the common forms and documents required for the process:

I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker: If you are applying for an employment-based green card, this will be filed by your employer on your behalf (unless you are applying for an EB-1A or EB-2 with a National Interest Waiver). As stated above, most employment-based visas are sponsored by U.S. employers. If your visa type requires a PERM labor certification, your employer will need to begin the green card process by obtaining one.

I-360, Petition for Special Immigrants, Americans, Widows or Widowers
If you are applying for a green card as a special immigrant or as a foreign employee under the EB-4 green card category, you will need to complete and submit an I-360 as part of your application process.

I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
This form is used for those who are applying on behalf of immigrant family members for a family-based green card.

I-526, Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur
This form is used to petition for an EB-5 investor green card.

Supporting Evidence: Each green card category requires several documents to be submitted as supporting evidence alongside the forms. Some of the must-have items include your academic qualification, biographic information, valid passport, and recent photographs. As an employee applicant, you will need to make all documentation available in order to prove your eligibility for the position you are filing for.

Filing Fees: Most USCIS and DOS forms come at a cost, your green card category, your age, and location (whether in or outside the U.S.) will determine the fees you are going to pay. For some forms, however, there is a fee waiver option for applicants who don’t have the financial ability to pay the filing fees.

I-485, Petition to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: You will need to file this after your I-140 or I-360 has been approved and your priority date is current. You may also be allowed to submit it concurrently depending on the category you are filing for. The I-485 is used to petition the USCIS of your eligibility to become a lawful U.S. permanent resident, but only if you are already in the United States under a nonimmigrant visa. Be sure that you file the most current edition of the form.

Consular Processing: If you are presently outside the U.S., you will need to use consular processing for your green card application. This will be done at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate office in that country. You will be required to file a DS-260 immigrant visa application as part of your consular processing.

As part of your green card application process, you must also prove to the immigration officers that you are not inadmissible based on health grounds or past criminal records.

The medical examination is done to show that you don’t have any health condition that may endanger other people’s health in the U.S. The examination must be done by a USCIS-designated surgeon.

Additionally, if you have been involved in any criminal activity, jailed, or detained for any major crime in the past, either in the U.S. or somewhere else, you will be asked to disclose that in your application and during your visa interview. Failure to state that or giving a misleading account of it might lead to inadmissibility based on fraud, falsehood, or misrepresentation.

As an employment-based or special immigrant green card applicant, you are going to appear physically at a USCIS office or U.S. embassy for your interview. Be sure that you answer the questions truthfully, as dishonesty could lead to being barred from re-entry into the U.S.

Within 30 days of your interview, you will get a notification of approval or denial from the USCIS. If you receive an approval notice, you should expect to get your green card delivery some months after that.

For a denial notice, however, the notification will state the reason for the denial. You may have the option of appealing the decision if you think you stand a good chance of having the decision overturned. Before taking any step in that direction, it is important that you consult an immigration attorney for guidance.

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How Can I Get A Green Card For The United States

How Can I get a Green Card?: That is a basic question many people ask. They want to live in the United States permanently and know that a green card gives them that right. If they qualify and they are already in the United States, it is a matter of filing an application to adjust their status from whatever status they have, such as a work visa, a student visa, or a visitor’s visa, to permanent residence. They file a Form I-485 to accomplish this task, adding all the required documents and paying all the relevant fees. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will require them to go to a biometric appointment where they must provide fingerprints and a facial scan to get a police and security clearance. In addition, they have to pass a medical, and also have to appear at an interview to qualify for a green card. The process will take about a year or more, and at the end they get their green card which will be evidence of their permanent resident status for ten years. They will then be able to renew their green card for another ten years and so on. But that is just a mechanical answer that outlines the procedure without talking about how hard it is to get a green card and eligibility to get one.

How hard is it to get a green card?: Getting a green card is not an easy task, no matter which way it is done. The process can be very difficult and complicated, particularly if the applicant does it incorrectly —wasting a lot of time and money in the process. Applicants can also expose themselves to deportation, criminal charges and even being barred from ever entering the United States if they have been in the U.S. illegally, committed offenses while in the country or abroad, or entered the country improperly. It is wise to beware of the dangers involved and take the process seriously. This is not a process for the uneducated or those with a checkered past.

What is the easiest way to get a green card to the USA?: The easiest way to get a green card is probably the green card diversity lottery program. The U.S. State Department gives away 55,000 green cards to applicants who apply from countries that are underrepresented in the yearly flow of immigrants to the United States, countries such as Fiji or Estonia for example. The purpose of the green card lottery is to promote the diversity of the pool of fresh immigrants entering the United States each year. To apply for a green card in this category all an applicant has to do is enter their name in the lottery and follow the basic rules involved. But they cannot be from countries like Mexico, China, India or the Philippines to qualify, since those countries are already over-represented in the flow of immigrants to the United States yearly. You can learn more about the diverse green card lottery here.

What are some other ways I can get a green card?: Apart from the diversity green card program, there are basically five ways to get a green card. Let us discuss each of these.

Family-Based Immigration: A popular way to get a green card is to be sponsored by a close family member who is either a U.S. citizen or someone who has a green card. For example, spouses, parents or unmarried children of U.S. citizens can get green cards by being sponsored. Similarly, spouses and children of green card holders can apply to come to the U.S. as permanent residents. Eligibility depends on the status of the sponsor and the nature of the relationship of the applicant to the sponsor. Applicants who are sponsored by American citizens get priority over those sponsored by green card holders. More details about these sponsorships can be found here.

Student Immigration: Studying your way in involves getting accepted at a college or university. To do that you need to talk with the international student advisor on campus. These individuals are paid to help students qualify and to get their visas. Briefly, the process involves getting an I-20 letter confirming you have registered at the school and can afford the cost of studying there and then applying for a student visa abroad through a U.S. Consulate or at the border in the case of Canada. The road to a green card on this track can be briefly depicted as: Student visa-> Post grad OPT work permit -> H1B work visa -> Labor certification and PR application -> green card. You can find out more here.

Asylum Claims: Claiming asylum means that you can prove you are outside your country of citizenship and have a well-founded fear of persecution by your home government if you return there based on well-accepted grounds of persecution, such as race, religion, political opinion, etc. Few people will qualify for this way of getting a green card in the USA, but for those who qualify, it is a viable option. See here for more information.

Employment-Based Immigration: Working your way in will depend on your qualifying for a work visa. The basic way to do that is through the process of labor certification where your employer establishes that there are no U.S. workers who are ready, willing, and able to take the job being offered, and thus it should be offered to a foreign worker. Avoiding this agonizing and painstaking process is wise, if at all possible. It can take years.

Work visas such as a TN visa under the USMCA free trade agreement, or an H1B visa will avoid labor certification. Other more difficult work visas you could still apply for are O or P visas for individuals with extraordinary skills, L visas for inter-corporate transferees, and R visas for religious workers. These do not involve labor certification and are therefore be preferred. Once you obtain such a work visa, in time you can transition to green card status. See here for more details.

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Investment-Based Immigration: Finally, you can invest your way into the U.S. The EB-5 program is the best way to do that. You invest $ 800,000 for a period of five years in a regional center project and you get your green card. The E-2 visa can be an interim step towards getting a green card as well, for those applicants who are from a country that has a trade agreement with the USA.

How long can you stay in the U.S. on a green card?: Green cards are granted for ten years and then require renewal. In some instances, such as persons who have been married for less than two years, get a conditional green card for two years. At the two-year mark, they are required to apply to remove the condition by proving they are still married and living with their spouse. Similarly, EB-5 investors who are granted a conditional green card at the two-year mark must show that their money is still invested in the business and that they have created not less than ten new jobs. If they prove that the condition on the green card is removed.

How long does it take to get a green card?: That depends. However, it is probably safe to say an application for a green card will likely take at least a year to be approved and in some cases can take as long as four or even five years to be processed depending on the category. The quicker green card categories are those for exceptional immigrants and for the closest family members.

Hopefully, this summary about green cards will be helpful in your efforts to immigrate to the United States.

20 Reasons You Should Apply to Get a Green Card

Were you thinking that you might want to get a Green Card? You should as there are countless benefits to having one.
1. When it comes to jobs, some security checks require applicants to either be U.S. citizens or hold Green Card status. Thus, having a Green Card opens up greater job possibilities.

2. You have the ability to leave and enter the U.S. without fear of being denied reentry by immigration officials, though you should bring your Green Card to provide evidence of your status.

3. You do not require employer sponsorship to work and can obtain employment in any U.S. territory provided it does not require U.S. citizenship.

4. You can alleviate the burden of rising college costs by having a Green Card; having a Green Card allows you to apply for government-sponsored financial aid.

5. Along with that, Green Card holders pay “resident tuition” at colleges which is substantially cheaper than what foreigners pay for college.

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6. If you got your family a Green Card, it will still be valid even if you die or lose your job.

7. If you’re here on a work visa, your spouse and any unmarried child under 21 are allowed to stay as dependents; once children obtain Green Cards of their own, though, they are allowed to stay even after turning 21 or upon being married.

8. You can help your spouse and unmarried child by serving as their sponsor to obtain permanent status; information on sponsoring your spouse can be found here.

9. If you work for a total of 40 quarters (which comes out to 10 years, 4 quarters each year), you are eligible by your Green Card status for Social Security benefits upon retirement.

10. The ability to start your own business or form a corporation.

11. Temporary permits are subject to changes in immigration rules which could result in deportation; Green Card holders have immunity against any such changes.

12. Since many banks require proof of long-term U.S. residences such as a Green Card or long-term visa before granting mortgages, it may be easier to obtain a mortgage if you have a Green Card.

13. Green Card holders are also eligible for government grants and have access to security clearances.

14. One big advantage in having a Green Card is that you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship later on.

15. As a Green Card holder, you are entitled to most legal rights under U.S. law

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16. As a Green Card holder, you are allowed to own firearms, property, and cars like other U.S. citizens.

17. You are legally allowed to make contributions to political campaigns if you have a Green Card or U.S. citizenship status.

18. A lot of insurance companies require at least a Green Card before providing health or life insurance.

19. There may also be a possible tax benefit to Green Card holders taxed as “non-resident” in their home country.

20. Different than visa holders, those with Green Cards can stay permanently anywhere in the United States.

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