The United States is one of the greatest countries in the world, but becoming an official resident requires following specific eligibility guidelines. Obtaining a green card gives the holder the right to live and work in the country permanently. Ensure that you are legally eligible according to one of the following categories before applying for your green card.
1. Prove That You Are the Relative of a Natural Citizen
It’s easiest for immigrants to qualify for residence in the U.S. if they have an immediate relative in the country. Spouses with a legally recognized marriage, individuals under 21 with a citizen parent, parents of a citizen child under 21, step-parents and step-children of residents, and adopted children under 16 fall into this category. There is no limit to the amount of green cards issued to these applicants who submit their valid paperwork for sponsorship.
2. First Come, First Serve Preference
A limited number of people are accepted per year that fit into specific preference categories. The wait time to become a citizen or resident under these conditions is always changing, but the applicants that submit first are most likely to get accepted. Preference categories include unwed adults over the age of 21 with a citizen parent, children under 21 and spouses of a person with a green card, married adults with a parent citizen, and siblings of a citizen over the age 21.
3. Preference as an Immigrant Employee
Professors, researchers, managers, and executives of major corporations are examples of workers given priority to become United States citizens. An employer must prove that there are no citizen workers who have the same qualifications and ability to work instead of an immigrant. Preference is given to immigrants with exceptional skills or to those who hold an advanced degree, religious workers, and investors contributing at least $1 million to a business based in the U.S.
4. Immigration from Less Common Countries
Around 50,000 immigrants are accepted each year from countries that have a low number of applicants based on a lottery system. Citizenship is granted based on a random selection among the pool of applicants that meet all of the eligibility guidelines.
5. Special Situations
Religious professionals, retired government employees, and minors dependent on juvenile court are examples of unique situations in which a person could become a legal immigrant. The laws to officially qualify as a special immigrant in each subcategory have their own unique application guidelines.
6. Individuals Granted Refugee Status
Immigrants living in fear due to persecution in their home country may be granted asylum or refugee citizenship. An individual applying cannot do so to escape violence or poverty, but they can qualify for persecution based on their nationality, political opinion, or personal religion. The government of the United States may require that an asylee return to their home country if changes provide for safe living conditions.
7. Amnesty Cases
Although deadlines have passed for those seeking amnesty based on past circumstances, such as living in the U.S. since 1982, some applicants didn’t know that they were qualified. Immigrants that didn’t get the opportunity to apply for amnesty could potentially receive citizenship based on class action lawsuits.
8. Illegal Immigrants Residing More than 10 Years
Requesting a cancellation of removal gives certain people an opportunity to live in the United States permanently. Guidelines that must be met include living in the country for more than 10 years and proof that an immediate family member who is a citizen or resident would face hardships based on your removal. This situation is best handled by a lawyer because immigration services may immediately deport an individual living in the country illegally.
9. Rare Humanitarian Cases
An immigrant that isn’t allowed to become a legal resident can get help from a member of the United States Congress. These situations are rare, but there have been occasions in which residence was granted based on humanitarian reasons.