If you want to live and work permanently in the US, you will need to secure permanent residency status by securing a US green card. Luckily, there are many ways that you can qualify for a US green card. For example, you may qualify through employment, through family, through asylum or refugee status, or through special categories. However, getting a US green card is about much more than just being eligible. To secure permanent residency, you must:
- Be eligible for a US green card.
- Apply for and receive a green card.
- Have a green card become available for you.
- Be considered admissible into the US.
The whole process can take a few weeks or many years. This is because unless you are the immediate family member of a US citizen, there are limits on the number of visas made available in each immigration category. Depending on the category you qualify under and the country you come from, the process can take different amounts of time. For example, if you are the unmarried and adult child of a US citizen, you are in the first preference category of family-sponsored green card categories. It may take you less time to get a US green card than someone from the same country applying as the sibling of a US citizen, which is a fourth preference category. For this reason, you may want to consider all the possible ways to you qualify to get a green card and apply through the family relationship that will get you your green card fastest.
If you do not have family in the US, you can still qualify for a US green through employment. US employers look for non-US workers all the time and will file an immigration petition on your behalf if you qualify. If you have extraordinary abilities, are highly education, or are a multinational manager or executive, you generally will be in the first preference category. If you have exceptional ability or have an advanced degree, you will generally be in the second preference category. Professionals and skilled and qualified workers are in the third preference while special immigrants are in the fourth preference. Entrepreneurs and investors are in the fifth preference.
If you are an asylum seeker in the US or are the child or spouse of an asylum seeker in the US, you can apply for a green card one year after your asylum status is granted. If you are a refugee in the US or a child or spouse of a refugee, you can apply for a US green card one year after you enter the US as a refugee. In fact, you must apply for a green card one year after admittance into the US.
There are other ways to get a US green card as well. For example, you can apply for the diversity green card lottery if you come from a country where many people do not immigrate to the US. If you invest a lot of money in the US and create US jobs, you may also qualify for a green card.