How To Get Green Card : 5 Ways


Usually people who come to US for working will start thinking about getting the green card in 1 or 2 years. Green card is nothing but a permit which allows a non US citizen to live and work permanently here like the citizens of US. You don’t have to worry about your work visa expiry dates after getting the green card.Having a green card does not mean you are an US citizen but it paves the way for becoming an US citizen.

Benefits of getting a Green card

– Can leave or enter the country anytime you wish without the need to face questions or denials from the immigration department.
– Apply for any job you wish like an US citizen as there is no visa restriction.
– Can buy and own a house or any property.
– Eligible to apply for US citizenship in future.
– Can start your own business or company.
– Sponsor your spouse or children (under 21) to get permanent status.
– Can apply for high profile jobs where security is top priority. These jobs will have restrictions like it may be awarded only to a US citizen or a green card holder
– Pay less tuition in colleges or universities when compared with other foreign people.
– Eligible to apply for getting government financial aid for studying in educational institutions.
– Can get some tax benefits while filing tax returns.
– If you have worked for 10 years with the green card, you can get social security benefits even if you are not a US citizen.

Restrictions of Green card

– Cannot stay outside US for not more than 3 months in a year.If you want to stay outside for more than a the prescribed time limit, you should get a reentry permit.If you don’t follow this, your green card will be taken back.
– Not eligible to vote in the presidential elections.

Before going to the categories we will know the meaning of some terminologies associated with the green card.

Priority date

To say it simply, it means the date in which you will stand in the queue for getting the green card. If it is ‘current’, it means you don’t have to wait in the line. But it is not current in most of the cases as the government has the limit for procession green card applications every year. So you may have to wait few years before getting to the queue.

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Adjustment of Status or I- 485

The validity of the H1 visa is maximum 6 years and L1 is 5 years. You cannot stay in US beyond this limit unless you have applied for the adjustment status.It is basically a procedure which allows the eligible person to become a lawful permanent resident of the US and you don’t have to apply for an immigrant visa after this.

Labor certification

The employer must prove to the Department of Labor (DOL) that either there are no skilled US citizens available to do this job or they not willing to take the job and they certainly need a foreign national. They should prove their statement by providing all the details like job details, applications received for the job, salary demanded by the candidates,salary affordable for them etc.In most cases, the employer does not have the ability to provide the salary asked by the US citizens. So they are preferring foreign nationals.

Form I-I40

It is also called Immigrant Worker Petition. This form is filed by the employer who likes to sponsor the worker who is a foreign national and he/she comes under the categories listed below.

1. Green Card Sponsored by an employer

This is the most available option for the foreign nationals to apply for a green card but the process generally takes more time. The employer need not be your current but it also may be your future one.Usually people who are already on work visas like H1B or L1 will apply for the green card.L1 visa holders are tied to the employer and you cannot change it at all. So the only option available to you for getting green card is that the employer should sponsor.H1B visa holders have the freedom for switching to another company. If the current employer cannot sponsor, you can switch to another employer who can do this.Even though it seems to be very simple, it may take few years to get the green card in your hand.

The process for sponsoring the worker depends on the type of the worker and it is divided into 5 classifications from EB1 to EB5.

EB1 – Priority worker

The worker will fall to this category if he/she satisfies any of the following criteria.

– Manager or Executive of a company who is transferred to the US office (E13 category)
– Professors or researchers with extraordinary qualification and they must have achieved significantly in their field.They must be in their field for more than 3 years.(E12 category)
– Persons with extraordinary ability in fields like science,arts,athletics,business etc. They must have reached one of the top positions in their field.(E11 category)

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People in all the three categories above does not need  a labor certification and the priority date will be current for these people.They can submit I-140 petition for the immigrant worker.

Percentage allotted worldwide for this category is 28.6%.

EB2 – Exceptional ability workers

– People with exceptional ability in the field of science,arts or business and employing these kind of people will help the US in some way.
– People having degree like Master’s or Ph.D and having a professional job like a doctor,lawyer,architect etc.
– Physicians who will undergo practice in medicine in the Health and Human services department.

The first two categories require a labor certification.

Percentage allotted worldwide for this category is 28.6%.

EB3 – Professional or Skilled workers

– People with undergraduate degree and 2 years of experience or training are called skilled workers.
– People with a Bachelor’s degree equivalent to that of the one in US are called as professional workers.
– People who don’t have any degree and less than 2 years of high education with no experience are called unskilled workers.

This category of workers also require a labor certification.

Percentage allotted worldwide for this category is 28.6%.

EB-4 Special Immigrants

– People who are members of any religious organization which has a branch or any non- profit religious organization in the US. Also they must have worked for at least 2 years in the organization full time.
– Present or former employees of the US government in the foreign country
– People who worked as a translator in the US army in wars or in various places like Iran,Iraq etc where US army was there.

These people does not require any labor certification.

Percentage allotted worldwide for this category is 7.1%.

EB-5 Investors

People who can invest money as much as $1000000 and create at least 10 full time jobs in the country fall under this category. This category of people do not need any labor certification.

2. Family based Green Card

If a member in your family or close relative is already a resident or citizen of the US, he / she can sponsor you.
A US citizen can submit petition for the following relationships.

– Spouse
– Children (Unmarried or Married)
– Siblings ( Brother or Sister.Sponsor must be over 21 years of age)
– Parents (Sponsor must be over 21 years of age)

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A green card holder can submit petition only for their spouse and unmarried children.

3. Green Card by Adoption

If an orphan child of any origin is adopted by the couple in which either one of them is an US citizen, then the child will be come eligible to be a permanent resident of the US. They can apply using either one of two forms I-600A or I-600 I-600A or Advance processing of orphan petition is submitted before identifying the child and adopting. I-600 form is the one applied for the child after identifying the child.

4. Green Card for Refugees

A person is considered a refugee if he / she is neither willing to live nor return back to their country due to many reasons like war, political issues, race problems etc. Every year the US governments sets a ceiling or number for these kind of people. Spouse or unmarried children of the refugee are also given the resident status.

5. Green Card by Political asylum

A person who is living already in US and not willing to go back to their country due to the reasons like race,religion,political issues etc. They should use the form I-589 for this purpose and they should submit the application within one year of their arrival.

6. Diversity Immigrant Visa

It is also called green card lottery.It is conducted every year by the department of state and around 50,000 visas are given to people born in various countries.The main rule for the visa is that the country which has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to US in the past five years are not eligible for this.The count 50,000 doe not include the refugee and asylum category people. The list of the eligible countries can be checked in DV Lottery website.

Many people get a green card after working in USA in H1B visa (work visa) for few years and their employers filing for green card. If you want to know more about how to get a H1B visa, read this article.

P.S – I’m not an attorney or legal consultant.

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About the author

Mani Karthik

In my pursuit of happiness, I share everything I've learned, on this blog. From productivity to spirituality and everything in between. I quit my cozy job in the USA to pursue my passion - blogging. Today, I make five times what my US job paid. More than the money, I love the freedom it gives me to make my own choices. Come join me. Start blogging! :) WhatsApp : +0014084894785

Mani Karthik

Hi, I’m Mani Karthik.
Entrepreneur. Blogger. Mentor.
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