Getting a Green Card

The U.S. Permanent Resident Card

You just cannot discuss immigration to the United States without the topic of “getting a green card” coming up. For most people, who are not familiar with USA immigration, the term “Green Card” to them means a “work permit” allowing someone to work in the United States.

The Green Card is actually the Permanent Resident Card issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to identify you as a permanent resident of the United States of America, and having the right to live and work in the United States permanently. You are required to have your “Green Card” with you at all times, as you can be asked to present it by USCIS officials, law enforcement officers, or employers.

Since May 11, 2010 the Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) has been redesigned to incorporate a number of major new security features. Also, since that date, it has reverted back to the colour green in keeping with the name “Green Card” by which it is universally known.

Categories For Getting a Green Card

There are a number of major categories through which you can be eligible for getting a green card. Check them all out in order to find the category that will be the most expedient for you. These include:

  • Family Class Category
  • Employment Category
  • Refugee and Asylum Seeker Category
  • Other Means Category

Getting a Green Card Through the Family Category

There are the five sub-categories covering family immigration:

Immediate Family — This sub-category is restricted to include only, spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents of US citizens, and adopted immediate family. There are no restrictions on the number of visas issued in this immediate family category.

Family Preference Category (Other relatives) — Here there are restrictions on the number of visas issued each year to this group of relatives. These include two groups of relatives:

Preference Category One: — unmarried children over 21 years of age, married children, and brothers and sisters, of U.S. citizens over the age of 21 years.
Preference Category Two: — relatives of a permanent resident including spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age.

Special Category of Family — This special group includes: Battered spouse, child or parent; fiancĂ©(e)s of U.S. citizens; those born in the United States to foreign diplomats; spouse, or child, of a permanent resident; and widows or widowers of U.S. citizens.

Note: In sponsoring a relative there is a distinction made between an U.S. citizen as the sponsor, and a permanent resident as the sponsor, as seen in preference categories one and two above.

Getting a Green Card Through Employment

Another way for you to obtain a green card is by getting an employment offer of a permanent job. A growing number of people obtain their green cards through employment. You may apply for a green card in one or more of the following ways:

  • Through an offer of permanent employment in the United States;
  • As an investor, or as an entrepreneur in a venture, that would create new jobs in the U.S;
  • Self petition yourself as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” or be granted one through a National Interest Waiver. Examples of these are individuals of outstanding achievement such as Nobel Prize winners, outstanding athletes, and world known experts in their field of work;
  • By means of the special categories of jobs such as broadcaster, international organization employee, and religious worker etc.


Getting a Green Card as a Refugee or Asylum Seeker

  • As a refugee you would be required bylaw to apply for a green card within one year after being accepted as a refugee.
  • As an asylum seeker you become eligible to apply for a green card after one year after being granted asylum.

Getting a Green Card Through Other Specified Categories

These refer to special immigration visas that are restricted to individuals in particular circumstances and which has to be applied for within a certain time frame. For more on these special cases go to USCIS.

For a more detailed information on the above visit the USCIS portal.