If you are about to apply for a green card, it is easy to look at the journey ahead as an overwhelmingly bureaucratic and complicated process.
However, today, there are over 13.6 million green card holders in the US, and nearly 9.2 million of them are eligible for citizenship. So, while challenging, getting a green card is certainly possible!
But what is the first step to take? And how can you choose the right application path for your needs? Below you’ll find all information needed to get started – but don’t forget that partnering with an immigration lawyer could be invaluable!
Applying for a Family-Based Green Card
If you are an immediate relative – spouse, child, or parent – of a US citizen, the fastest and most straightforward way for you to obtain a green card is through a family-based application.
In this case, your relative who is a US citizen can petition for you to become a legal permanent resident, and help you forgo long waits.
Relatives who are not considered “immediate” can also petition for you to obtain a green card, but weights can be longer, depending on what Family-Sponsored (F) Preferences you fall into:
F1 – unmarried sons and daughters over age 21
F2 – spouses, children, and adult sons and daughters of US permanent residents
F3 – married children of U.S citizens
F4 – siblings of U.S. citizens
Before applying for a family-based green card, you should keep in mind that:
• No preference includes extended family, such as cousins and grandparents
• You can undertake this path even if you are not currently in the US, but your application will be reviewed by the U.S Department of State, which will need to grant you the visa you’ll need to enter the country
• The petition should be formalized through USCIS Form I-130 and Form I-485
• The petition can be carried out by a U.S. citizen or a green card holder
• Your status can change if you get married or turn 21
Leveraging Your Skills and Getting an Employment-Based Green Card
Another path to getting a green card is through employment-sponsored petitions. In this case, the employer will petition for your permanent resident status. While, in 2022, there is an exceptionally high number of employment-based visas available, getting a green card this way can be challenging.
The first four Employment-Based (EB) categories have incredibly strict requirements:
EB1 – priority workers and world-class professionals
EB2 – professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities
EB3 – professionals who hold a Bachelor’s Degree in a specialized field and fit the need of the current US market
EB4 – “special” immigrants
Applying for an employment-based visa can be challenging. If not for the wait times – which are relatively short – certainly for the amount of documentation and paperwork needed from both you and your employer.
Investing $500,000+ in a Business To Get an EB-5 Visa
Technically, the EB5 visa falls into the category of employment-based green cards. However, the Employment Fifth Preference (EB5) does not require you to prove your experience and skills, and it is fully dedicated to foreign investors who can invest:
• At least $500,000 into a business in a targeted employment area
• At least $1,000,000 in a new business outside of targeted employment areas
Also known as “Job Creation Visa”, EB5 allows investors who can actively create new jobs for US citizens and residents by investing personal assets in a business venture.
Making an EB-5 investment will allow you to obtain a permanent residency permit in the U.S. – but you will need to be ready to prove that your business will create at least 10 permanent jobs within the US!
Winning the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery
The US citizenship test is undoubtedly getting harder – but obtaining a green card through employment, investment, or family bases is not that simple either! Luckily, there is one last option worth considering. This is the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program.
This lottery-like program awards green cards to 55,000 foreign nationals each year, given that they:
• Are from countries with a low number of green card holders in the US
• Meet the minimum education requirements
• Can prove that they’ll be able to support themselves financially
• Have no criminal records or immigration violations
Increasing Your Chances of Securing a Green Card: 3 Things To Avoid
Getting a green card is certainly possible – but denial rates are still high and, depending on your visa category, can vary between 6% and 50%! Luckily, there is a lot that you can do to increase your chances of securing a green card. Here are three fatal mistakes to avoid:
Not checking your eligibility – while there are several ways to apply for a green card and you can submit more than one application for different categories, checking the eligibility criteria is crucial. Don’t forget that a green card denial will stay on your record and can affect the outcome of future visa applications.
Not keeping yourself admissible – when applying for a green card, you will need to prove that you are not inadmissible in the US or that you don’t pose any danger. This means that you should keep your record clear of any criminal activity and any other action that might stain your reputation.
Not double-checking your application – any mistake or areas left blank in your application might lead to rejection. And, even in the best-case scenario, you’ll have to start your application process again.
Working with an immigration lawyer is the best way to avoid all of these issues and increase your chances of securing a green card.