For those planning to come into the country, there are a few routes to take to stay in the United States. For many, this comes in the form of a work visa, where an individual is sponsored by an employer to stay in the country while in their position. However, for many, once they have started a life and have settled into things, staying in the country permanently may seem like an attractive choice. However, not all people are eligible for green card status in America.
A green card comes with a lot more privileges than a work visa. The card gives the holder the identity of a permanent U.S. resident. This means the holder has the right to enter, exit, work, and live in the country their entire life, and will eventually be able to apply for full citizenship. There are five categories of people who are eligible for green card status and the eventual road to full citizenship.
Immediate Relatives of United States Citizens
The quickest route to a green card is through a relative. Family members that qualify under this category include:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens. This includes recent widows, along with same-sex spouses, given the marriage is legally recognized in the state or country in which the marriage took place.
- Anyone with a parent who is a U.S. citizen that is both under 21 years of age and unmarried.
- The parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age.
- Stepchildren or stepparents of a U.S. citizen only if the marriage between the spouses that created the stepparent/stepchild relationship occurred before the child turned 18 years of age.
- Children adopted by U.S. citizens or other permanent residents given the adoption occurred before the child turned 16 years of age and given all adoption requirements and conditions are met.
Other Family Members
Philadelphia immigration lawyers note that some family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are also eligible for green cards, but not as quickly as immediate relatives. Instead, only a small number receive green cards each year. Green cards are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, meaning the earlier the U.S. citizen turns in a visa petition, the quicker the person will be able to apply for a green card.
Preferred Employees and Workers
Only 140,000 green cards are given each year to professionals who have job skills that are necessary and needed in the U.S. market. In these cases, it is most common that a job offer will be required and that the company will need to prove they have not found any willing and qualified U.S. workers despite all efforts.
Green Card Lottery
Currently, the U.S. grants 50,000 green cards to people who originate in countries that have, in the most recent years, sent the fewest immigrants.
Every once in a while, green cards are made available in special circumstances. Examples include international broadcasters, young people in the juvenile system, and retired employees of the U.S. government abroad.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Advocate on Behalf of Immigrants
When facing an immigration problem, it is important to find someone that speaks your language. At Surin & Griffin, P.C., our team of Philadelphia immigration lawyers understand what our clients are going through and offer sound legal strategies to find the best outcome. Contact us online or call 215-925-4435 today to find out how we can help.