Across the globe, people dream of moving to the U.S. and settling down there to explore the ‘land of opportunity for economic, social and personal benefits. To convert their dream into reality, Green Card is the best option that permits individuals to permanently and lawfully reside and work in the United States.

Green Card is also named ‘permanent resident card’ and ‘certificate of alien registration.’ Green Card leads the individual towards U.S. citizenship after three or five years of residence in the U.S. depends upon the application category and having a good moral character. Green Card holders can freely move within and outside the U.S. but don’t allow to stay outside of the U.S. for more than one year; otherwise, the card will expire, and you have to reapply.

Types/Categories of Green Card:

There are various kinds and categories of Green Card which non-resident can adopt to access the U.S. The most common categories are as follows;

  • Family-Based Green Card
  • Employment-Based Green Card
  • Humanitarian Green Cards
  • Diversity Lottery Green Card
  • Longtime-Resident Green Card
  • Adoption-Based Green Card

1. Family-Based Green Card

Family-Based Immigrants are categorized into two main groups: immediate relative categories and family preference categories. The immediate relative category is characterized for a special relationship such as a spouse, unmarried children (under 18 years of age), and parents of U.S. citizens. While family preference category includes all other qualifying family relationships with a U.S. citizen, such as;

  • First preference (F1): Unmarried, adult sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of U.S. citizens.
  • Second preference (F2A): Permanent residents’ spouses and unmarried children (under 21).
  • Second preference (F2B): Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents.
  • Third preference (F3): Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens.
  • Fourth preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

Note: The extended family members such as grandparents, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws don’t qualify under the category of Family-Based Green Card.

The family-based immigration process generally initiates when the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor files Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to request a visa number. After that, intending immigrant must apply for a green card via consular processing or adjustment of status. This is not a simple process because a limited number of family preference immigrant visas (green cards) are offered every year on a first-come, first-get basis.

The U.S. Department of State will put the application on the applicant’s priority date, and you will have to wait for your number. For family preference categories, the following requirements must be fulfilled;

A U.S. citizen or permanent resident must;

  • File the petition for a foreign family member.
  • Document the qualifying family preference.
  • Promise to sponsor the family member.

While the intending immigrant must;

  • Apply for a permanent residence (green card).
  • Be admissible to the United States.

Note: This category also includes widows and widowers married to a U.S. citizen at the time of his or her death who may apply for a green card after the authentication of marriage.

2. Employment-Based Green Card

If you have found a job in the U.S. and the employer agrees to pay a reasonable wage or salary rate against your required competencies, abilities, and knowledge, you are eligible to get an employment-based green card. For this, your employer will have to file a petition with complete evidence of a job contract and proof that they couldn’t find a suitable candidate from the U.S. The following table explains the categories of employment-based green card;

Visa Category


Priority workers (EB-1)
  • If you possess an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, and athletics.
  • If you are outstanding professors and researchers.
  • If you are a multinational manager and executive.
 Professionals with advanced degrees and exceptional abilities (EB-2) Your employer can sponsor you for EB-2 visa if you acquire;

  • A position requiring at least a master’s degree.
  • A position requiring at least a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree, plus at least five years relevant experience.
  • A Position in the sciences, arts, or business requiring exceptional* ability.
  • A Position of national interest.

Note: A physician who agrees to work full-time and meet other eligibility criteria can get an EB-2 visa with a special waiver.

Skilled, unskilled, and professional workers (EB-3)
  • Full-time skilled positions with a minimum of two years of training or experience.
  • Full-time unskilled positions with less than two years of training or experience.
  • Professional positions that require at least a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree.
Special workers (EB-4)
  • Media professionals
  • Religious workers
  • Afghanistan and Iraq nationals who have served the U.S. government.
  • Some other employees, retirees, and their family members.
Investors (EB-5)
  • Non-U.S. nationals who have invested or are investing at least $1 million in newly established U.S. businesses that provided jobs to 10 workers.

3. Humanitarian Green Cards

USCIS offers several humanitarian-based protections and programs to those who are in a severe emergency and need shelter or support to save from disaster, medical problems, or any other reasons. Under this category, the following individuals can apply;

Refugees and Asylees: It includes people who face threats or pressures in their home country based on race, nationality, religion, or social class. Refugees and Asylees must physically reside in the U.S. for at least one year to apply for a green card.

Human-Trafficking Victims: It includes those individuals who are victims of human trafficking, living in the U.S. either legally or illegally. They can apply for a T-visa to stay in the U.S. for up to four years conditional on providing help in investigating and prosecuting criminals of human trafficking. To get a green card, 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

Crime Victims: It includes the people who experienced physical or mental abuse, living in the U.S. either legally or illegally. They can apply for a U-visa to stay in the U.S. for up to four years conditional on providing help in investigating and prosecuting the criminal. To get a green card, they are required to fulfill the following eligibility requirements;

  • They must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least three years since receiving a U-visa.
  • They must not have left the U.S. until the decision of USCIS about acceptance or denial of the application.
  • They must not have refused to help in investigating or prosecuting the crime.

Abuse Victims: This law was created to protect victims from domestic violence. Victims may apply for a green card under the following condition;

  • A current or former spouse who is 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.

4. Diversity Lottery Green Card

Under this category, the U.S. government randomly selected 50,000 people from the pool of applicants or entries received from Africa, Asia, and Oceania countries with little immigration in the past. Furthermore, 7% share of a green card is given to each country.

5. Longtime-Resident Green Card:

The Individuals who have been physically living in the U.S. legally or illegally since January 1, 1972 may apply for a green card through a special process named ‘registry.’ For this, the individuals are required to fulfill the following criteria;

  • They entered the U.S. before January 1, 1972.
  • They have not left the U.S. since arriving.
  • They have good moral character.
  • They’re eligible for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
  • They have not committed crimes that would make them deportable to their home country or inadmissible to re-enter the U.S.

6. Adoption-Based Green Card

Under this category, you can apply for an adoption-based green card if you have adopted a child (under 16 years of age) from a foreign country and they have lived for at least 2 years under your custody. First, you will apply for a visa, once obtained, then apply for status adjustment to permanent residence or green card.


  • retrieved on December 17, 2022.
  • retrieved on December 17, 2022.
  • retrieved on December 17, 2022.
  • retrieved on December 17, 2022.
  • retrieved on December 17, 2022.