1. What Is Green Card Eligibility?
2. Amnesty
3. Asylum and Refugee
4. Green Card by Marriage
5. Green Card for Temporary Protected Status
6. Green Card Lotteries
7. Immediate Relatives of US Citizens
8. Other Family Members
9. Preferred Employees and Workers
10. Special Cases
11. Special Immigrants
12. What Is a Green Card?

What Is Green Card Eligibility?

Green card eligibility is whether or not you have met specific requirements to receive a green card for residency within the United States.


Amnesty has been given to people who live in United States as illegal individuals since January 1, 1985. Amnesty green cards were issues to workers who has worked in the country for 90 days. These types of a green cards were offered between May 1, 1985 and May 1, 1986.

Certain individuals have been able to file for amnesty outside this timeframe due to the filing of lawsuits and the institution of the LIFE act. Specifically, the act allowed individuals to receive an opportunity for amnesty if applications were not reviews during the specific amnesty timeframe.

Asylum and Refugee

The United States allows individuals to retain a refugee status if said person faces some sort of prosecution in their own country due to their race, nationality, religion, political affiliation, or a membership within a specific group of individuals. If a person is given their status as a refugee, then they are allowed to apply for a green card within a year.

The US government allows for asylum protection for any person who has already made it into the United States but who is fearful of persecution due to religion, race, nationality, social group membership, or political affiliation.

Any person who has been granted asylum has the opportunity to apply for a green card within one year.  There are a wide variety of agencies within the United States that oversee the asylum and refugee process and indicate who can and cannot receive the status. These organizations and agencies also help the individuals who receive their asylum or refugee status to adjust to living in the Unites States as a permanent resident.

Individuals who want to seek out a visa that allows for refugee or asylum status do not need application or petitions to do so. The president decides how many of these protected individuals are allowed in the country in any given year. There is a specific limit when it comes to immigrants who claim a violation of rights of persecution based on the practices of family planning. There are no direct limits on immigrants who come into the country for other reasons.

Green Card by Marriage

To enter into the United States, you can apply for a specific K-1 fiancé visa if you have become engaged to an individual who is already a citizen of the United States. After the visa is acquired, you can enter the country. Once you are married, you will have the opportunity to apply for an adjustment so you can become a green card holder.

Any United States citizen’s children and their spouses are eligible for the K visa. It can take up to 8 months living abroad and over one year in the United States before the visa is processed. If an individual is living aboard as they apply for the visa, they must remain there until the application is processed. If they are already in the United States, then they can wait in this country for the results.

Green Card for Temporary Protected Status

When an individual feels that their home country is not safe, then they have the option of applying for a receiving a temporary protected status. This is a temporary status that does not immediately allow for a permanent green card in the future.

Green Card Lotteries

The United States government gives countries with low numbers of immigrants 50,000 allocations for green cards. Anyone who is eligible for a visa under the lottery of diversity does not have to submit their name and petition for a green card. It is provided as a mandate of the US immigration act of 1990. The selection is a random one that is completed by a variety of countries.

Immediate Relatives of US Citizens

If you have an immediate family member already living in the United States, then you are eligible to apply for a permanent resident or a permanent green card. The application for this is processed immediately and quickly.

Any child who is under the age of 21 and has a US citizen as a parent, a spouse of a citizen, and parents of children over 21 who are already citizens are people who are immediate relatives.

If a marriage occurs between two parents before a child turns 18, then the step parent and the step children of the US citizen are eligible for permanent residency due to them being an immediate family member.

Other Family Members

A child under 21, parents, and spouses are able to apply for family-based green cards.

If a relative is able to provide support financially and wants to petition an immediate family member, then this individual is able to apply for a family-based green card. Children under the age of 16 who are adopted by US citizens can apply for green cards too if all conditions are met in accordance with relations.

There is no direct limit to the number of green cards that one person can petition for when it comes to immediate relatives. Green cards are issued as soon as documents and paperwork are processed.

A child of a United States citizen who is over the age of 21 or a sibling of a citizen is considered a preference relative. Preference relatives include married people who have parents who are US citizens. This is also true of unmarried children and the husband or wife of someone who already has a green card.

People who are considered preference relatives are able to receive green cards when there are visas available. There are limits to the number of green cards that are available each year, so these people may need to wait.

In some cases, a preference relatives may need to way for years before there is any availability and applications will not be processed.

In any given year, the United States grants only 480,000 green cards for relatives who are in the preference category. Since the entire process follows a first come first serve sort of system, the sooner that an applications is filed, the quicker that a preference relative will have the opportunity to come to the United States.

There are some factors that can affect the processing of the application like the type of visa that is applied for, the country where the person lives, and the number of people in that same country who are also applying for visas.

There are large numbers of applications that are received from places like India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines. This means that there may be a longer wait for anyone who is applying for a visa from one of these countries. In general, though, a preference relative application can take between about three to twenty four years. While this is true, an individual who is a spouse or a child of a permanent resident will have the opportunity to remain in the United States while applications are being processed.

Preferred Employees and Workers

A person with a job offer within the United States has the option of becoming eligible for an employment based green card. When it comes to this sort of green card, the qualifications and background of the individual are extremely important. Also, the employer who has offered the job must be willing to become the sponsor for the employee.

Any individual who wants to seek out employment within the United States has the option of receiving an H-1B visa. This is a temporary visa.

The United States does issue about 140,000 green cards for anyone who has a skill set that is need within the country. Individuals who are considered priority workers include people with exceptional art, business, education, science, research, and athletic skills. Also, executives of companies with a multinational status are given preference for work visas.

Any individual who is a professional with an advanced education and exceptional skills within their own field may be provided with a green card.

Visas for employment reasons are not only provided to individuals with college degrees. Also, there is no requirement that the individual applying for the work-based visa be already employed by the sponsor.

When it comes to the employment-based visa, the costs associated with the move and relocation are typically paid for by the sponsor.

Special Cases

There are some humanitarian reasons why a person may be provided with a permanent residency even if they are not eligible for a green card. For example, a clergy member or someone affiliated with a religious organization can apply for an immigrant visa if they want to work in the US for a chapter of a religious organization. This is possible only if the individual has already worked for said organization for two years already.

Special Immigrants

Special immigrant visas are given to foreign individuals who have medical degrees from other countries and now live in the United States. They must have come to the country before January 10, 1978 though.

Any person who have been employed by the United States government in the past may apply for a special immigrant visa. Also, any person who is retired from an international organization and who has worked in the US for the half of the last seven years may be eligible for a visa.

A special immigrant juvenile status visa is given to people who are children and are currently under foster or state care and living in the United States.

The visas are also given to anyone who has provided a military service for the US for 12 years or more after the date of October 15, 1978. Also, people who have provided a service for the US during a recent war or conflict, like the one in Iraq, may be provided with a citizenship on an immediate basis.

Someone who has lived in the country since 1972 and who has a good character can legally apply for a green card based on certain government provisions.

People are considered international broadcasters or who have been employed at some time in the Panama Canal Zone can apply for green cards as well. Any consulate employee who is non-citizen and has worked for the consulate for three years or more is eligible for a green card. Any resident who has lived in the United States for 10 years can receive a permanent resident visa as well.

The granting of a permanent resident visa as well as the requests to do so are heard in court and involve a well thought out defense against deportation. For example, the individual can indicate that a child or spouse will go through undue stress and torment if the deportations goes through.

What Is a Green Card?

The green card itself is an identification that indicates that the person is a permanent resident of the United States. The green card is the informal name for the form I-551 document. Once an individual receives their green card, they are allowed to enter and exit the United States, reside in the country, and live there legally.

Once the individual has their green card, they can become a US citizen. In the meantime, if the individual fails to renew or update the green card, then they can lose their permanent residency status. They can then be deported from the United States. This happens in the worst case scenario and a legal professional can assist individuals who have allowed their green cards to expire.

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