There are many ways to obtain a Green Card. The most common are through family, through U.S. based employment, and through asylum or refugee status.
U.S. Immigration Law establishes a preference system for various categories of immigrants as well as the number of visas available to each category.
Family Based Green Card
The spouses, parents and unmarried children under age of 21 of the U.S. citizens are exempt from the visa limitations. All other family members eligible for a Green Card have to wait until the appropriate visa becomes available before adjusting their status.
There is a particular number of visas available for each category of the qualifying family members depending on the following preference:
First Preference (F1): Unmarried, adult (21 years of age or older) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
Second Preference A (F2A): Spouses of permanent residents and the unmarried children (under the age of 21)) of permanent residents;
Second Preference B (F2B): Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or age or older) of permanent residents;
Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children;
Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.
Employment Based Green Card and Investment Based Green Cards
Certain immigrants are eligible to apply for a Green Card through employment or investment. Each category has its own number of visas available based on the following preference:
First Preference (EB1): Priority Workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers;
Second Preference (EB2): Members of professions holding an advanced degree or persons of exceptional ability (including individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver);
Third Preference (EB3): Skilled Workers, professionals and other qualified workers;
Fourth Preference (EB4): Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations;
Fifth Preference (EB5): Employment creation immigrants (investors or entrepreneurs). (Read more)
If you would like to stay and work the U.S. temporary, you may consider applying for a non-immigrant visa (ex: H1-B, L-1, O-1, etc.). (Read more)
Asylum Based Green Card or Refugee Based Green Card
If you were admitted to the United States as a refugee (including your qualifying family members), you are required to apply for a Green Card 1 year after your entry into the United States in this status.
If you were granted asylum (including your family members) in the United States, you may apply for permanent residence 1 year after the grant of your asylum status, although you are not required to do so.
There are no visas or preferential categories that are set for this category of immigrants.
Green Card Lottery (Diversity Visa Program)
Every year, the U.S. Government makes 50,000 Diversity Immigrant Visas (DV) available through a lottery system. This is also known as the Green Card Lottery or the Diversity Visa Lottery.
Only citizens from specific countries are allowed to participate in the Green Card Lottery.
The Lottery application period is open every year for only one month (October) and the results are released 6 month after the application period closes (May of the subsequent year). Those lucky individuals, whose applications were selected randomly by a computer program, will have to go though the interview process at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy at their home country before they can enter the U.S. and obtain a Green Card.
Although 50,000 people receive a Green Card through Lottery every year, the odds of winning a Green Card Lottery are very slim. Considering the fact that over 14 million people applied last year, the chances of winning a Green Card for 2016 were 0.0035%.
There are other ways to obtain a Green Card that are available for certain categories of immigrants, including battered spouses or children (VAWA), widow(er)s of U.S. citizens, victims of criminal activity, people of certain nationalities, and people holding certain jobs.
If you wish to apply for a Green Card, seeking the representation of the Los Angeles Immigration Center is a step in the right direction towards legal status in the U.S. To learn if you qualify for one of those categories, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You may also fill out an online contact form on the right.