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How to Get a Green Card

How to Get an Employment-Based Green Card


Children Receive U.S. Citizenship Certificates In New York
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A green card, officially known as known as "United States Lawful Permanent Residency," authorizes an individual to live and work in the United States permanently. Individuals seeking a green card through employment can apply from their home country once they are assigned an immigrant visa number, which is organized based on the following preferences:


  • First Preference: Individuals with special abilities, distinguished academics, professors, and researchers, and international executives
  • Second Preference: Professionals with an advanced degree or workers with exceptional talent
  • Third Preference: Skilled workers and professionals
  • Fourth Preference: Individuals under special circumstances, and certain religious workers
  • Fifth Preference: Immigrant investors, who must invest between $500,000-$1,000,000 in a venture that creates at least ten new jobs for U.S. citizens or other lawful permanent residents and immigrants.

How to Get a Green Card

There are four basic employment-related ways to obtain a green card, including:

  • Green Card through a job offer: An which an individual can apply for a green card after receiving a formal offer to work in the United States.
  • Green Card through investment: An individual establishes a business venture that creates new jobs in the U.S.
  • Green Card through self-petition: Distinguished individuals with exceptional abilities, or specific individuals who are granted a National Interest Waiver, can file a green card for themselves.
  • Special Category Green Card: This category include workers in the established special immigrant categories, such as broadcasters, international employees, and religious workers, for example.

Green Card Lottery Program

The annual green card lottery program (Diversity Immigrant Visa Program) is an opportunity for potential immigrants to obtain the status as a permanent legal resident of the USA. This program runs each year and provides 55,000 "Green Cards" to applicants randomly selected in a lottery process - known as the Green Card Lottery.

Green Card Application Process

Although the application process differs based on the method in which one seeks to obtain a green card, generally an I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, must be submitted.

Once the petition is approved individuals can apply for a green card through Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Here's more specific guidelines based on each path of green card application:

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