If you wish to live and work in the US, you will need to secure immigrant status, also known as permanent residence or a US green card. The green card is the only solution if you wish to live and work in the US, travel freely in and out of the US, and even enjoy access to some government benefits. There are many ways to secure a greencard. If you are married to a US citizen, related to a US citizen or have employer sponsorship, you may qualify for a green card. To be eligible for a US green card, you must also meet these requirements:
- You must meet one of the categories described in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). You can seek family based greencard sponsorship, employer based sponsorship, or eligibility under special categories. If you apply for the green card diversity lottery, however, you can secure a US green card without meeting one of these eligibility categories.
- You must have a petition filed on your behalf and approved by the US. In most cases, green card applicants will need to have a family member, employer, or other sponsor file a petition on their behalf. This petition can be Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker), Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant), or another petition. This petition must be approved before a green card is granted. In cases where an asylum seeker or refugee apply for a green card, this petition is not needed. The petition is also not needed for those who are able to secure a green card through the diversity green card lottery.
- You must have a green card available for you. Unless you are an immediate family member of a US citizen, you must wait until a green card is available. The US restricts the number of visas made available in each immigration category. Therefore, how long you wait will depend on how you have applied, your country of origin, and your priority date. The wait may take weeks or years, depending on these factors.
- You must be considered admissible into the US under law. There are eligibility requirements for admission into the United States and you must be able to prove to immigration officials that you meet these requirements before you are granted a green card and allowed to enter the US. There are some health issues and security issues that can prevent you from being admitted into the US. If you have committed certain crimes, you may also be deemed inadmissible into the US and may be denied a green card. Some applicants may be able to file Form I-60 (Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility) in order to get these requirements waived.