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What are the requirements for obtaining a green card through immigration law?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Immigration

A green card is technically called a permanent resident card. It allows you to live and work permanently in the United States, as long as you are law-abiding. It generally also provides a path to citizenship if you qualify.

Generally, someone will need to sponsor you for a green card. Depending on your situation, your sponsor could be a family member who is already in the U.S. or an employer. In some cases, you do not need a sponsor.

These are the general green card eligibility categories:

  • Eligible if sponsored by certain close family members, spouses or fiancé(e)s who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Eligible if sponsored by an employer for certain types of skilled employment or investment
  • Eligible through a “special immigrant” category such as religious workers, international broadcasters and others
  • Eligible as an approved refugee or asylee
  • Eligible as a victim of crime, especially human trafficking
  • Eligible as a victim of abuse
  • Eligible as one of a variety of “other categories” ranging from Diversity Immigrant Visa Program lottery winners to people covered by country-based adjustment acts
  • Green card through registry: if you have lived continuously in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 1972

Your immigration lawyer will ask you questions to determine if you are eligible for a green card. You might be eligible for more than one reason. Your lawyer can tell you which category will give you your best chance of obtaining a green card through immigration law.

The basic process of getting a green card

According to the USCIS, this is the basic process for applying for a green card. Once you have identified the green card category you’re eligible under and have gotten any necessary sponsor, follow these five steps:

  1. Have your sponsor file an immigrant petition for you (or file yourself in cases where not sponsor is needed).
  2. Once the petition is granted and there is a visa available for you, file either a green card application with the USCIS or a visa application with the U.S. Department of State. This step includes providing evidence of your eligibility and paying a fee.
  3. Attend a biometrics appointment, where you will provide fingerprints, photos and a signature.
  4. Go to an interview.
  5. Wait for a decision on your application.

The exact process depends on whether you are legally in the U.S. or outside the U.S. when you apply.

Obtaining a green card through U.S. immigration law can require a detailed application and strong evidence that you are eligible. An immigration lawyer can help you by explaining exactly what you need to do.