What is a green card ?
A green card allows a non-U.S. citizen to realize permanent residence within the us . Many people from outside the us need a positive identification because it might allow them to measure and work (lawfully) anywhere within the us and qualify for U.S. citizenship after three or five years.
Every year, the U.S. government issues more than a million green cards. Most are given to family members of U.S. citizens and current positive identification holders, followed by workers from other countries seeking employment within the us because the next biggest group of recipients.
But there are many other categories of green cards. This guidebook provides a basic overview of the foremost common types and who can apply for them.
Boundless can help spouses of U.S. citizens with their marriage-based green card application. We turn all the specified government forms into simple questions you'll answer online — typically in under two hours. Learn more, or get started today.
Family-Based Green Card
Close relatives of U.S. citizens and current positive identification holders may apply for family-based green cards of their own. Eligible family members include spouses, children, parents, and siblings (as well as the spouses and children of those spouses, adult children, and siblings).
Also included during this category are widows and widowers who were married to a U.S. citizen at the time the citizen died. Like spouses of living U.S. citizens and current positive identification holders who apply for a marriage-based positive identification , widows and widowers must prove that their marriage was authentic so as to receive a positive identification .
Many extended family members — cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents — do not qualify. They may apply for a positive identification as long as they, too, have a better relative who may be a U.S. citizen or current positive identification holder (or qualify for one among the opposite sorts of green cards below).
Boundless can assist you obtain a marriage-based positive identification . We make it easy to finish your positive identification application and avoid common problems. Learn more about what Boundless does, or start your application today.
Employment-Based Green Card
Within the employment-based positive identification category, multiple subcategories of workers can apply for permanent residence. In some cases, their spouses and youngsters may qualify for a positive identification , as well.
The following table lists the employment-based subcategories and therefore the sorts of jobs that fall into them:
Category Jobs included
Priority workers (EB-1)
Positions in the arts, sciences, education, business, and athletics that require extraordinary* ability
Outstanding professors and researchers
Multinational managers and executives
Professionals with advanced degrees and exceptional abilities (EB-2)
Positions requiring at least a master’s degree
Positions requiring at least a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree, plus at least five years’ relevant experience
Positions in the sciences, arts, or business requiring exceptional* ability
Positions of national interest
Physicians (EB-2 with a special waiver)
Physicians who agree to work full-time in underserved areas for a specific period and meet other eligibility criteria
Skilled, unskilled, and professional workers (EB-3)
Skilled positions that need a minimum of two years’ training or experience that's not temporary or seasonal
Unskilled positions that require less than two years’ training or experience that is not temporary or seasonal
Professional positions that need a minimum of a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree from a U.S. university or college or the equivalent of this degree from a non-U.S. school
Special workers (EB-4)
Religious workers and ministers
Afghanistan and Iraq nationals who have served the U.S. government under certain capacities
Certain other employees, retirees, and their family members
Non-U.S. nationals who have invested or are investing a minimum of $1 million (or $500,000 during a high-unemployment or rural area) during a new U.S. business which will create full-time positions for a minimum of 10 workers
*Extraordinary ability is demonstrated “through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation,” consistent with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
**Exceptional ability refers to “a degree of experience significantly above that ordinarily encountered” in your field.
Qualified Boundless customers can begin the marriage green card application process today and pay Boundless — plus their government filing fees — over 6 months, paying only $190 per month
Humanitarian Green Cards
For refugees and asylees
People who fear, or have experienced, persecution in their home country — because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group — can seek protection within the us by applying for a visa from abroad (to come as refugees) or from within the us (to remain as asylees)
Once they need physically lived within the us for a minimum of one year since receiving refugee status or asylum, they'll apply for a positive identification . Children and spouses (and in some cases, other family members) of refugees and asylees can also seek protection within the us under these programs and eventually apply for a green card.
For human-trafficking victims
Victims of human trafficking who are living in the United States — whether lawfully or unlawfully (in other words, “undocumented”) — may apply for a T visa to stay in the United States for up to four years. As a condition of the T visa, however, they need to help to research and prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking (unless the victim is under age 18, during which case they need not help with such efforts).
To qualify for a positive identification , the applicant must have physically lived in the United States for one of the following periods, whichever is shorter:
Three years since receiving a T visa
The duration of an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking
They must also meet other eligibility requirements. These include, as an example , demonstrating “good moral character” (meaning they need not committed certain crimes, like fraud, prostitution, or murder) from the time they received a T visa until they’re approved for a green card. As another example, they need to demonstrate to the U.S. government that they might suffer extreme hardship involving severe harm if they were required to go away the us . (USCIS provides the full list of eligibility criteria.)
Certain relations also will be eligible to use for his or her own green cards as long as both those relatives and therefore the victim satisfy all requirements.
For crime victims
Victims of “substantial physical or mental abuse” who are living in the United States — whether lawfully or unlawfully (in other words, “undocumented”) — may seek protection by applying for a U visa. To obtain a U visa, the victim’s application must be certified by a enforcement agency. Like recipients of T visas (see above), an applicant for a U visa must also comply with help investigate and prosecute people that commit certain crimes, like kidnapping, sexual assault, and torture.
To qualify for a green card, however, the applicant will got to full fill other eligibility requirements, including the subsequent examples:
They must have physically lived within the us for a minimum of three years since receiving a U visa.
They must not have left the us from the time they applied for a positive identification until USCIS has approved (or denied) their application.
They must not have refused to assist investigate or prosecute certain crimes from the time they received a U visa until USCIS approves (or denies) their positive identification application.
The victim’s children, parents, siblings, and spouse will also be eligible to apply for their own green cards as long as both those relatives and the victim satisfy all requirements.
For abuse victims
Victims of violence (battery or extreme cruelty) may apply for a CLICK HERE positive identification that might allow them to hunt relief through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Although this law was created to profit women, it applies to both women and men, and both parents and youngsters , who are victims of abuse.
An abuse victim may apply for a positive identification on their own — without the knowledge or permission of their abusive relative, who can include:
A current or former spouse who may be a U.S. citizen or green card holder
A parent who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
A child who is a U.S. citizen
USCIS won't notify the abusive relative of the appliance so as to stay the victim safe. (Full eligibility requirements are detailed on the USCIS website.)
IMPORTANT: If you or someone you recognize is experiencing domestic abuse now, contact the National violence Hotline directly at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). You’ll be ready to talk with someone about available resources, like shelters, psychological state care, and legal assistance. The hotline also provides information about green cards through VAWA.
Diversity Lottery Green Card
Under the U.S. “green card lottery” (officially referred to as the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program”), the U.S. government per annum randomly selects up to 50,000 people from a pool of entries it receives from six geographic regions, like Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Only people from countries that have had little immigration to the us within the past — for instance , Algeria, Lebanon, and Slovakia — may enter the lottery. (See the complete list of nations whose citizens are eligible or ineligible for the 2020 lottery.) The share of green cards distributed to anybody country is capped at 7%.
Most lottery applicants sleep in their home countries at the time they cast their entries, but some already sleep in the us under a special sort of immigration status.
Long time-Resident Green Card
Individuals who have physically lived in the United States — lawfully or unlawfully (meaning you were “undocumented”) — since January 1, 1972 may apply for a green card through a special process called “registry.”
To qualify for a positive identification through registry, the individual must meet all of the subsequent criteria:
They entered the us before January 1, 1972, which they might got to prove by providing an I-94 travel record (officially called the “Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record”).
They have not left the us since arriving.
They have “good moral character,” meaning they need not committed certain sorts of crimes, like fraud, prostitution, or murder (see more info on “Good Moral Character“).
They’re eligible for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
They have not committed crimes that might make them “deportable” (able to be sent back to their home country). Examples of such violations include substance abuse , smuggling, and marriage fraud (marrying a U.S. citizen or positive identification holder to get a marriage-based green card).
They have not committed crimes that might make them “inadmissible” (meaning they can't receive a green card). Examples of such violations include entering the United States unlawfully and staying more than six months in the United States with an expired visa.
Boundless helps married couples obtain marriage green cards by simplifying the application process and providing top-rated lawyer support — all for a flat price of $950, about one-fifth the cost of a traditional immigration lawyer. Learn more about our services, or start your application today.
Other Green Cards
The U.S. government issues many other sorts of green cards besides those discussed above. Some of these include green cards for “special immigrants,” including media professionals, religious workers, Afghanistan and Iraq nationals who have served the U.S. government under certain capacities, and other sorts of workers who have served in a world organization. Others include green cards for Cuban citizens and American Indians born in Canada.
USCIS provides an inventory of those other positive identification types and their eligibility requirements.
If you’re considering applying for a marriage-based positive identification , Boundless can help. We make it easy to finish your application by turning government requirements into simple questions you'll answer online. Learn more, or let’s begin!