Many US green card applicants apply for permanent residency through employment or family sponsorship. There are many advantages to applying for permanent residency through sponsorship; a sponsor submits your green card petition on your behalf, and verifies with the US government that he or she will be financially responsible for you while you are in the United States. In some cases, sponsorship can speed up the US green card process. For example, if you are married to a US citizen, you can usually get your US green card very quickly.
However, not everyone has the option of getting a US green card through sponsorship. You may not have any family who are US citizens, and you may not be able to secure a permanent job or the type of job that allows for employment sponsorship. If this is the case, you still have many options for handling the US green card process on your own.
For example, you can apply for US green card through the US green card diversity lottery. If you are selected and if you are considered admissible to the United States, you will get permanent residency. It costs nothing to apply. Simply check the green card lottery yearly to see whether you are eligible for the lottery. If you are eligible for the lottery, it is a good idea to apply since winning the lottery allows you to claim your green card very quickly.
As well, if you have lived legally in the United States for ten years on various visas, you may be qualified for permanent residency through your residency in the United States. If you have lived illegally in the US for at least ten years, you may wish to consult with a US immigration attorney; there may be provisions which allow you to apply for lawful permanent residency. In addition, you may qualify for a US green card without sponsorship if you belong to one of the categories of special immigrants or if you can claim refugee or asylum status. To find out the full range of options available for you to apply for a US green card, be sure to visit the USCIS website, which details all the paths you can take in order to attain permanent residency to live and work permanently in the United States.