There are many ways to legally immigrate to the United States and obtain a permanent residence permit, also known as the green card.
This residence card authorizes you to live and work in the United States without a time limit and even gives you the option of requesting to become an American citizen through naturalization.
The paths to obtain the precious green card are varied. The options that are available are described below, but it must be taken into account that the procedures, requirements, and delay times of the entire process are very different.
This article ends with an explanation of where problems may arise that delay or make it impossible to remove the green card.
1- Green card for marriage with the American citizen
Marriage with an American citizen is one of the most common and fastest ways to obtain permanent residence. However, just getting married does not mean that the residence is obtained automatically but that the citizen spouse must apply for it. In addition, the presentation of the petition does not mean that it can always be taken out.
Permanent residence by marriage is both in cases of heterosexual marriages and those formed by two persons of the same sex.
Clarify that you can not obtain American citizenship by marrying a citizen, what you get is a residence and, after three years of time married to a citizen, then the resident can apply for naturalization and thus become a citizen.
Finally, it should be noted that citizens have the option to apply for a K-1 visa to bring their boyfriends or fiancées and, once in the United States, marry and apply for an adjustment of status as a step to obtain residency.
2- Green card requested by a citizen for unmarried children under 21 years
These cases apply to biological or adopted children and also to the stepson of an American citizen, although, in the latter case, special rules apply. These requests are fast, usually taking less than 1 year.
3- Green card for citizens widowers
Widows of American citizens may request, in certain cases, the green card for themselves.
4- Green card for stepchildren of deceased citizens
To benefit the stepchildren of deceased citizens must meet several requirements, including being single and 21 years old.
5- Green card for father or mother of citizen
The children of citizens must be 21 years old to apply for the green card for any of their parents. Simply being the father or mother of a citizen child does not give immigration rights.
6- Green card for the son of a citizen who is single and is over 21
It is what is known as an F1. The delays in these procedures are between 6 and 20 years, depending on the case, and can be verified in the visa bulletin.
7-Green card for the married son of a citizen, regardless of age
This petition, also called category F3, is delayed for years, even decades, with the wait for Mexicans being greater than for the rest of Latin America and Spain.
8-Green card for siblings of citizens
This residence card that is known as category F4 is among those that have a greater delay. Only citizens over 21 can ask their siblings.
9- Green card for a permanent resident spouse
These requests, which are known as category F2A, are very similar to those that citizens can present, however, their processing differs in important points.
For example, resident requests are delayed further. Another important difference is that spouses of residents who are as undocumented in the United States in no case can adjust their status, however, in the case of spouses of citizens, they can do so as long as they had legally entered the United States.
In practice, this difference has important legal consequences since the undocumented who cannot adjust their status and must leave the country to go to the consular interview find that the punishment of 3 or 10 years for illegal presence applies.
10- Green card for single children of permanent residents
These are the delay times for these types of requests. In this case, there are two situations: for children under 21, which is known as category F2A, and for those over that age, which are the F2B. In no case can residents ask their married children.
11- Green card luckily through the lottery
By winning one of the 50,000 immigrant visas that are drawn each fiscal year in the diversity lottery. Participating in this raffle is free and registration is opened in the month of October, remaining open for a month and producing the raffle the following year in spring.
12- Green card for investment that creates jobs
Investing a minimum of half a million dollars, through the EB-5 visa. Direct investment is allowed creating a company or an indirect one is possible several modalities.
Unlike in other countries, in the United States, investment in a house or other real estate on its own is not a cause to obtain a residence card. Since it is necessary that it involves investing in a business.
13- Green card for self-sponsorship
Petition for oneself without the need to sponsor the residence card through an EB-1 visa in the case of professionals with an extraordinary ability in Art, Science, Sports, Education or Business. Example: Oscar winners, Olympics, Pulitzer prizes or similar.
Actually the standard to meet these requirements is very high.
14- Green card for work in categories EB 1, EB2 and EB3
In these cases, it is necessary for a company or institution in the United States to sponsor foreign employees before the immigration authorities.
- Through the EB-1 visa for professors and researchers of extraordinary capacity and managers or executives of multinationals.
- For the EB-2 for graduates with at least five years of work experience or with exceptional ability in Art, Business or Science.
- Through the EB-3 for graduates, workers with professional training that requires at least two years of practical studies or work experience and also for workers without any professional training but who develop work that is not temporary and for which there are no workers available in the United States.
15- Green card by category of special immigrants
Through this path, US institutions and companies can sponsor the following categories of workers through an EB-4:
- Priests, nuns, religious ministers who have been at least two years as such.
- Journalists, reporters, writers, translators, producers and similar workers working for the BBG (Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty, etc).
- Members of the United States Armed Forces.
- Workers of international organizations.
- Afghan and Iraqi translators.
- Iraqis who have somehow helped the United States.
- Employees of the Panama Canal Zone.
- NATO retired workers or, if they have died, their widowers and children.
16- Green card for Cubans
Obviously, Cubans can obtain the green card in all the forms admitted for other nationals, but also and by application of the Cuban Adjustment Law, they can apply for the green card after one year in the United States.
Since the end of the dry feet, wet feet policy, it is imperative that the entry had been made legally. In other words, because in immigration control he was allowed admission as admitted or received parole.
17- Green card for asylees
People who have won an asylum case can apply for a residence card for themselves and also for their immediate family.
18-Green card for refugees
Refugee and asylum seekers are very similar, but there are important differences between them. Refugees who request the residence card for themselves can also apply for immediate family members.
19- Green card for victims of violence
Foreign victims of violence who have previously been approved for a U visa can benefit from this option. At this point, you have to understand very well the requirements of that visa, as it gives rise to much confusion.
Being a victim of violence does not entitle, by that mere fact, to obtain the U visa.
20- Green card for victims of domestic violence
The VAWA program paves the way for the green card for spouses of citizens or permanent residents who have suffered domestic violence.
21-Green card for victims of human trafficking
In order to apply for the residence card, it is necessary to have the T visa previously approved.
22- Green card for living in the United States for a long time
For living continuously in the US since January 1, 1972, or before and to be able to prove it. It is what is called residence by the registry.
Contrary to what many migrants believe, the green card is not obtained for 10 years in the United States. In some cases of migrants with open deportation procedures, it would be possible to obtain a cancellation of deportation.
23-Green card for being special youth immigrants: SIJ
Those under 21 who are single to whom the United States government has placed in the custody of a guardian or a public or private institution because they have been abused or abandoned by one of their parents or both. This group of boys is known as Special Youth Immigrants or SIJs.
24- Green card by court order of a judge in immigration court
In a deportation case, an immigration judge can sentence that the foreigner can stay because he does not qualify for the removal or because he has obtained a form of relief that allows him to adjust his status and thus obtain a residence card
Delay times in the processing of the green card
Each category has its own times. Currently, more than one million people get the green card every fiscal year. Some have waited only a few months, while others have had to wait for even more than 25 years for an immigrant visa to be available to them.
This is due to the fact that in many categories there are annual limits to the number of requests that can be approved and the number of applications is higher than the number of visas available. In these cases, there is a delay that, every year, increases more.
Types of procedures
The procedures are very different, depending on the path followed to obtain residency. But, in general, we can talk about two types.
On the one hand, the adjustment of status, when the migrant is already in the United States and can conclude the process without leaving the country and, on the other, the consular procedure, which culminates with an interview at the consulate and which, among its previous steps, it is a requirement to fill out the immigrant visa form DS-260.
When is it possible not to pay per application for the residence
In cases of residence due to special circumstances (youth immigrants with this recognized status, registry, T visa, U visa, etc.), it would be possible to qualify to be exempt from paying the fee for this immigration process to obtain residence.
Causes why the processing does not end well
Despite meeting the requirements to qualify for a path to obtain the green card, the process may not be completed for various reasons. For example, in the case of family requests because there are not enough resources to sponsor.
But problems usually arise because the person who aspires to the green card is considered inadmissible to the United States. The causes can be very different, from record crimes to illegal stay in the country.
It should be noted that, at present, the USCIS denial of an adjustment of status is considered as a cause of priority for deportation.
Depending on the reasons and circumstances of the case, it may be possible to request a pardon, also known as waiver or permission. But in other cases, it will be impossible. It is best to consult with a good lawyer.
Because of its frequency, it is very important to know how it can affect the illegal presence in the United States, current or in the past and also migratory fraud.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the possible denial of the immigrant visa or the adjustment of status to obtain the green card because it is considered a public charge.
The Donald Trump government has designed a new regulation on the factors that must be taken into account, such as age, work, education, income, wealth, knowledge of English, etc. to determine if a migrant is a public charge and has extended public benefits that can be considered a public charge.
The new rules should apply as of October 15 for all new and pending requests for approval. However, several court orders have halted their application by USCIS or the Department of Homeland Security and a court order is awaiting to determine whether or not the new regulations on public charge and public benefits can be applied.
However, the new guidelines can be applied by the State Department, that is, consulates and embassies, which may approve or deny visas as of October 15, 2019, based on the new public charge rules.
In relation to the public charge but different is the requirement of medical insurance for immigrant visas as of November 3, 2019.
Of interest to potential migrants
The United States is a different country. In many cases, there are laws, customs, taxes, rights, duties, etc. are unknown. And as a result of that ignorance, sometimes they end up having very serious problems even when they did not intend.
Therefore, there is nothing better than knowing the basic things that should be known and those that should be avoided. If possible, it is recommended to inform yourself before emigrating.
It is also important to know that once a person becomes a resident they have to wait a while before applying for citizenship by naturalization. The wait depends on several factors.
In addition, it is necessary to take English and civic knowledge and history test. Numerous organizations across the country provide free classes to prepare for the citizenship exam.
Finally, if you are open to emigrating to a country other than the United States, these are 20 countries in which it is possible to buy citizenship and/or residence. The quantities and conditions vary between different programs.
Multiple response test on permanent residence
It is recommended to take this quiz or multiple response test, with your correct answers, to ensure essential knowledge about the green card Contact Us.