Types of Green Cards You Should Know

The benefits of a green card for a foreign-born person are simple. A permanent resident card, otherwise known as a green card, allows a person who was not born in the United States to live and work lawfully anywhere in the U.S. That immigrant can also then qualify for U.S. citizenship after a period of three or five years. Over one million people are issued a U.S. permanent resident card every year.

If you are a foreign citizen and looking to live and work in the United States, you may be wondering how you can become a permanent resident. Keep reading this article to learn more about the different types of green cards and the benefits of a green card.

Most Common Types of Green Cards

While there are multiple types of green cards foreign nationals can apply for, there are four major categories that most immigrants fall into when seeking eligibility for a permanent resident card:

  • Employment-based green cards – If you are trying to obtain a green card for the U.S. through your employer, know that there is a priority system for accepting these types of applications. For example, professionals with advanced degrees or physicians that agree to work full-time in an underserved area will likely be processed quicker than unskilled or professional workers.
  • Family-based green cards – This is perhaps the most common way a foreign-born person will try to gain their green card. However, please be aware that this type of visa only applies to “close family members” of a U.S. citizen or green cardholder. Family members such as children, spouses, parents and siblings are eligible but aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins are not considered close family members.
  • Humanitarian green cards – People who are fleeing persecution because of their race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a specific social group can apply as refugees or asylees. Spouses and children of these people may also seek protection in the U.S. under this program and eventually apply for a permanent resident card.
  • Diversity lottery green cards – Every year, the U.S. randomly chooses up to 50,000 people from countries with small numbers of immigration to the U.S to receive their green card.

How Can You Obtain A Green Card?

Once you have determined which category you are eligible for and have already filed the appropriate petition, you can then file Form I-485 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Don’t forget to include any supporting documentation and processing fees. Once the USCIS has received your application, it will schedule an interview with the applicant. After the interview, the USCIS will return their decision, and you will become a permanent resident of the U.S. if your application is approved.

The immigration system in the United States is known for its complexity. If you are unsure about your application, it’s always best to speak to an experienced immigration attorney. Leiva Law Firm is a boutique firm based in San Francisco specializing in U.S. immigration and nationality laws for local and international clients. Contact them today to discuss your specific immigration case!