A Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued by the U.S. government that allows a foreign national to live and work permanently in the United States. There are several ways to get a Green Card, including through employment sponsorship, family sponsorship, investment, or the Diversity Visa Lottery.
If you are interested in getting a Green Card to work in the U.S., the best way to get started is to consult with an immigration attorney. They can review your individual circumstances and advise you on the best way to proceed.
How to Get a Green Card to Work in the U.S
The most common way to get a Green Card is through an employer sponsor. To do this, your employer must first obtain a Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. Once the Labor Certification is approved, your employer can file an immigrant petition on your behalf. If the petition is approved, you can then apply for a Green Card.
Employment-Based Green Card
To get a Green Card through an employer sponsor, your employer must first obtain a Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This certification verifies that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position you are filling. Once the Labor Certification is approved, your employer can file an immigrant petition on your behalf (Form I-140). If the I-140 petition is approved, you can then apply for a Green Card (Form I-485).
If you are currently in the U.S. on a non-immigrant work visa, such as an H-1B visa, you may be able to adjust your status to permanent resident while you are in the country. This is known as “concurrent filing.” If you are not currently in the U.S., you will need to go to a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country to apply for an immigrant visa.
Family-Based Green Card
If you have a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they may be able to sponsor you for a Green Card. The following family members are eligible to sponsor immigrants:
- Children (unmarried and under the age of 21)
- Adult children (21 and over)
The number of Green Cards available to family members is limited each year, so there may be a wait time for your application to be processed.
Investment-Based Green Card
If you are willing to invest a significant amount of money in the U.S. economy, you may be eligible for an investment-based Green Card. There are two main investment-based Green Card categories:
- EB-5 Investor: Investors who invest at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 jobs are eligible for an EB-5 Green Card.
- EB-1C Manager or Executive: Foreign nationals who have been employed for at least one year in a managerial or executive capacity by a multinational company with offices in the U.S. may be eligible for an EB-1C Green Card.
Diversity Visa Lottery
Each year, the U.S. government awards 55,000 Green Cards to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates. This program is known as the Diversity Visa Lottery. To enter the lottery, you must be a citizen of a qualifying country and meet certain other requirements.
Which Green Card Category is Right for You?
The best Green Card category for you depends on your individual circumstances and qualifications. If you are not sure which Green Card category is right for you, the best way to find out is to consult with an immigration attorney. They can review your individual circumstances and advise you on the best course of action.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a category:
- Your skills and education: If you have a high-demand skill or a degree from an accredited U.S. university, you may be eligible for an employment-based Green Card.
- Your family ties: If you have a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they may be able to sponsor you for a family-based Green Card.
- Your financial resources: If you have the means to invest a significant amount of money in the U.S. economy, you may be eligible for an investment-based Green Card.
- Your country of origin: If you are from a country with low immigration rates, you may be eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery.
Once you have considered all of these factors, you can start to narrow down your options and choose the Green Card category that is best for you.
How to Apply for a Green Card
The Green Card application process can be complex and time-consuming, so it is important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In general, to apply for a Green Card, you will need to submit the following:
- A completed application form (Form I-485)
- A supporting affidavit from your employer or family member (if applicable)
- Evidence that you meet the eligibility requirements for the Green Card category you are applying under
- Filing fees
You may also need to submit other supporting documentation, such as medical records, police clearances, and birth certificates.
Once you have submitted your application, USCIS will review it to determine if you are eligible for a Green Card. If your application is approved, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment, where you will provide your fingerprints and photos. You may also be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer.
After your interview, USCIS will make a decision on your application. If your application is approved, you will be issued a Green Card. If your application is denied, you will receive a written explanation of the denial and may have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
Processing Time for Green Card Applications
The processing time for Green Card applications varies depending on the category you are applying under and the workload at the USCIS. In general, it can take several months or even years for a Green Card application to be processed.
Here is a brief overview of the processing times for the most common Green Card categories:
- Employment-Based Green Card: 12-18 months
- Family-Based Green Card: 12-24 months
- Investment-Based Green Card: 12-18 months
- Diversity Visa Lottery: 9-12 months
It is important to note that these are just estimates and the actual processing time for your application may vary. You can check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date processing times for each Green Card category.
Once you have submitted your Green Card application, you can check the status of your application online or by calling USCIS. You will also receive a receipt notice in the mail, which will include a tracking number that you can use to check the status of your application.
If you have any questions about the processing time for your Green Card application, you should contact USCIS directly.
What happens once you have a Green Card?
Once you have a Green Card, you will be able to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be eligible for a number of benefits, including:
- Social Security benefits
- Medicare benefits
- In-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities
- Financial aid for education
- The ability to travel freely in and out of the United States
- The ability to sponsor family members for Green Cards
- The ability to apply for U.S. citizenship
Here are some of the things you can do once you have a Green Card:
- Apply for a job: With a Green Card, you are eligible to work any job in the United States, without the need for a work visa.
- Start a business: Green Card holders are also eligible to start and own businesses in the United States.
- Travel freely: Green Card holders can travel freely in and out of the United States, without the need for a visa.
- Sponsor family members: Green Card holders can sponsor their spouses, children, and parents for Green Cards.
- Apply for U.S. citizenship: After five years of having a Green Card, you can apply to become a U.S. citizen.
It is important to note that Green Card holders have certain responsibilities as well. For example, Green Card holders must maintain their permanent residence in the United States and must obey all U.S. laws. Green Card holders may also be required to serve on a jury and may be required to register for military service.
Getting a Green Card to work in the U.S. can be a complex process, but it is possible with careful planning and preparation. There are several different ways to get a Green Card, including through employment sponsorship, family sponsorship, investment, and the Diversity Visa Lottery. If you are interested in getting a Green Card, consult with an immigration attorney to discuss your individual circumstances and the best way to proceed.