Ways to Get a U.S Green Card

3 min


Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wants to enter the United States must first have a visa. It’s either a non-immigrant visa or a migrant visa. However, a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. It only indicates that the consular office of the United States has determined whether you are eligible to apply for entry to the country with a specific purpose.

People who are entering the United States for the purpose of work, study, travel or in an exchange program can obtain a non-immigrant visa. It is mostly used by tourists, business people and workers who wish to only stay there for a period of time. 

Immigrant visas are for people who have plans in living permanently in the United States. It permits them for admission to the country as a Legal Permanent Resident. This is a potential way to acquiring U.S. citizenship and getting a green card. 

Even though you are holding a non-immigrant visa, it’s still possible to apply for a green card, you just need to know the process, just like going from 01 Visa to Green Card.

A Green Card is the key to becoming a citizen of the United States. It is what we call legal permanent residency. When you become a holder of this green card, it means you are granted authorization to legally live and work in the United States.

Every year, the U.S. government issues more than a million green cards. Most are given to family members of a U.S. citizen and current green card holders, followed by workers from other countries seeking employment in the United States as the next biggest group of recipients.

You can become a permanent resident in many different ways. First, you need to determine under what category you are eligible for. You need to have the best knowledge about the process of obtaining one. Just a quick view of the categories. Here are the three major ways to get a green card.

Green Card Through a Family Member

The most popular way to get a green card is obtaining it through a family member or what they call Family-Based Green Card. If you are a close relative of a U.S citizen or a green card holder, you can petition for a green card.  

This is one of the easiest and faster way to get a legal permanent residency. A U.S citizen is allowed to petition spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age and parents of a child that is over 21 years of age.

Green Card Through a Job

Employment-Based Green Card is somewhat broad because it doesn’t just deal with your employer. It also includes opportunities to get a green card through investments or having a specialized job. In some cases, their spouses and children may qualify for a green card as well.

Being a Refugee or Asylee

Immigrants who entered the United States as a refugee or asylee can apply for a green card one year after entering the country.  These are for people who fear, or have experienced persecution in their home country. It may be because of their race, religion, nationality or political opinion. These immigrants can seek protection in the United States and obtain a Humanitarian Green Card. 

Once you have determined what category you belong to, then it’s time to file for a petition. Once the correct petition has been filed, you then move to the next process which is checking the visa availability. As mentioned, a visa allows you to enter the United States and is necessary in applying for a green card.

After your visa becomes available, you will be allowed to complete USCIS Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status. It is important to complete this application without any mistakes or errors as it can cause delays or rejections by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).

Once correctly completing your application for a green card, you will be sent a receipt notice letting you know the USCIS received all your documents and paperwork. Then you will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment. This is where your fingerprints, a photograph and an electronic signature will be acquired by the immigration officers. They are used to do a background check.

Once the background check has been done, you will receive an interview invitation. Lastly, wait for the final decision whether you have been granted with a green card or not. You will receive a mail. If you pass, you will get a notice on how to claim your green card. However, if you fail, you may not receive a green card but can still file an appeal in the USCIS.

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