Green Card Eligibility

There are a number of ways to qualify for permanent or conditional residency status in the United States. Family members of U.S. citizens are often eligible for Green Cards, as are employees of U.S. companies and refugees seeking asylum within the U.S. Though there are dozens of ways to qualify for a Green Card, the most common ways include applying through a family member with U.S. citizenship, applying through your employer, or applying through what is known as the ‘Green Card Lottery.’

Applying Through a Family Member

You may qualify for a Green Card through a family member with U.S. citizenship if:

  • You are an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen. This includes: Spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens who are over the age of 21. If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you have priority over other visa applicants.
  • You are a relative under the “preference category.” This includes: Unmarried children over the age of 21, married children, and siblings of U.S. citizens. If you are within the “preference category,” you may face a waiting period during the application process.

You may also qualify for a Green Card through a family member who has permanent residency if:

  • You are the Spouse or unmarried child of a U.S. permanent resident.

There are special categories of Green Cards offered to certain categories of family members, which include:

  • Children Born to Foreign Diplomats in the U.S.
  • Widows and Widowers of U.S. Citizens
  • Battered Spouses or Children
  • Fiancés and Fiancées of U.S. Citizens

Applying Through a Job

You may qualify for a Green Card through either an offer of permanent employment in the U.S. or if your current employer is able and willing to sponsor your application. You can apply for a Green Card through a job or job offer regardless of whether you are currently living in the U.S. at the time of your application.

In addition, there are special categories for applicants who were once, or are currently, working in a number of specific positions. These categories include:

  • Members of the Armed Forces
  • Physicians and Health Care Professionals
  • Employees of qualifying ‘International Organizations’
  • Religious Workers
  • Afghan/Iraqi Translators
  • Afghan/Iraqi citizens who assisted the U.S. Government
  • NATO Employees

The ‘Green Card Lottery’

The Diversity Immigration Visa Program (commonly referred to as the ‘Green Card Lottery’) offers up to 50,000 visas and Green Cards each year to applicants from countries with low levels of immigration. The list of qualifying countries varies from year to year based on immigration trends, so you must carefully review the application procedure each year to determine whether or not you are eligible to apply.

In addition to the geographic requirements, every lottery applicant must:

  • Have a high school education (or the equivalent of a high school education) OR
  • Have at least two years of work experience in a professional occupation

If you are thinking of applying for a Green Card in the U.S. and you would like to discuss your potential eligibility for immigration, give us a call at 301-515-1190.

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