The U.S. Green Card, also known as the Permanent Resident card allows a foreign national to live and work permanently in the United States.
Foreign nationals who wish to obtain a U.S. Green Card must fall within one of several categories defined by U.S. immigration law.
16 Ways to get a U.S. Green Card
1. Family Based U.S. Green Card
You may be eligible to apply under this category if you are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, family member of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen.
2. Employment Based U.S. Green Card
This category is broken down into 5 sub categories ranked from employment based category 1 (EB-1) to employment based category 5 (EB-5).
Most of these categories require a U.S. employer to file a petition on your behalf.
3. U.S. Green Card for Special Immigrants
Special immigrants include members of religious organizations coming to the U.S. to work for a non-profit organization, members of the U.S. armed forces, or some nationals of Afghanistan and Iraq who were employed by the U.S. government.
4. U.S. Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
Under U.S. immigration law, asylees may apply for a U.S. Green Card after they have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year since they were granted asylum.
Similarly, refugees may apply for a green card after one year of residing in the United States.
5. Green Card for Victims of Human Trafficking and Victims of Certain Crimes
If you are present in the United States in a T or U nonimmigrant status, you could become a Green Card holder or permanent resident of the United States if you meet certain requirements.
6. Green card for Victims of Abuse
This includes victims of battery or extreme cruelty, such as an abused spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and individuals in the special immigrant juvenile status.
7. Green Card through Registry
Certain Foreign nationals who have resided continuously in the U.S. on or before Jan 1, 1972 may be eligible to register for a Green Card even if they are currently in the U.S. unlawfully.
8. Green Card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
50,000 immigrant visas are available annually and randomly awarded to foreign nationals from countries with low rates of immigration to the US through a lottery based system.
9. U.S. Green card through the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act
10. Green Card for citizens of Cuba provided under the Cuban Adjustment Act
Certain citizens or nationals of Cuba present in the United States may be eligible to get a U.S. Green Card under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
11. Green Card for Persons Born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomat
If you were born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomat stationed in the United States, you might be eligible to obtain a Green Card.
12. Green Card for an American Indian born in Canada
If you were born in Canada and possess at least 50% American Indian blood, and maintain your principal residence in the United States, you might be eligible to get a U.S. Green Card under this category.
13. Green Card for Lautenberg parolee who was paroled into the U.S. on or before September 30, 2012
Certain foreign nationals from the former Soviet Union who were paroled into the United States for humanitarian reasons may be eligible to get a U.S. Green Card if they have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year.
14. U.S. Green Card under the Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act
could become permanent residents of the United States.
15. Green Card for a Haitian Refugee
16. U.S. Green card for Certain Diplomatic Officers
Some diplomatic officers and their dependent family members who are unable to return to their home countries could apply for U.S. permanent residency status.
Application Process to Get a U.S. Green Card
Regardless of which category you fall under, how you apply as a foreign national for a Green Card would depend on whether you are currently residing inside or outside the U.S. at the time you wish to apply.
Foreign nationals residing inside the U.S. in a legal status go through an application process called an adjustment of status.
While foreign nationals residing outside the U.S. need to go through a process called consular processing in order to obtain an immigrant visa.
All applications for a U.S. visa are handled outside the United States by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
While applications for an adjustment of status are handled inside the United States by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
As you can see, there are a multitude of ways you could qualify for a U.S. Green Card.
While many foreign nationals could work in the U.S. under other different nonimmigrant visa categories, none of these allow foreign nationals to live and work permanently in the United States like the Green Card.
The U.S. Green Card also serves as a pathway to U.S. citizenship.