A permanent resident card, commonly called the Green Card, is issued to foreign nationals who are granted permanent resident status in the U.S. and are allowed to legally live and work here. One can get a Green Card through employment, family relationship, investment, refugee or asylee status or through the Green Card lottery.
Family-Based Green Cards
Family sponsorship is one of the most common ways through which foreign nationals immigrate to the U.S. A Green Card holder or a U.S. citizen can sponsor certain family members for legal status in the U.S. The U.S. citizen or Green Card holder sponsoring the relative must prove that they can financially support the beneficiary.
Green Card holders and U.S. citizens can file an immigrant petition for their husband or wife and their unmarried children. U.S. citizens also have the privilege of sponsoring more categories of relatives like their married children, parents and their brothers or sisters. U.S. citizens need to be above age 21 to sponsor their parents and their brothers or sisters.
However, uncles, aunts, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws and cousins cannot be sponsored for legal status in the U.S.
Employment-Based Green Cards
Foreign nationals can get Green Cards in the U.S. if they are offered permanent employment in the U.S. and if the employer is willing to sponsor them for a Green Card. Individuals with extraordinary ability and education are more likely to get employment-based Green Cards in the U.S.
Investment-Based Green Cards
Foreign nationals can get a Green Card in the U.S. by creating jobs in the U.S. by making an investment of $500,000 to $1,000,000 in a commercial enterprise. This investment should benefit the U.S. economy and create a minimum of ten full-time jobs in the U.S.
The diversity visa lottery or the Green Card lottery, conducted every year by the U.S. government, makes available 55,000 immigrant visas. This program is open to nationals of all countries except those with high rates of immigration to the U.S. This is one of the easiest ways to get a green card as it does not require a sponsor.
Those who have been granted refugee or asylee status in the U.S. can get a Green Card in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements. They can apply for adjustment of status and get legal permanent resident status in the U.S.