Obtaining a green card can be a dream-come-true for those who don’t yet have permanent legal status. Holding a green card allows you to stay in the U.S. permanently, travel to and from the country legally, work in the country, petition for family members, get a driver’s license, and start the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
There are many paths to obtaining your green card, and every situation is unique. This post highlights some of the most common paths to give you a basic understanding of the process. However, before you begin applying for a green card, we strongly recommend contacting an attorney to see which path is best for you.
Family-Based Green Card
One of the main ways a person can obtain a green card is through family. If you are seeking a green card, ask yourself whether you have one of the following family relationships:
••••• Do you have a U.S. Citizen spouse, child (over 21), parent, brother, or sister?
••••• Do you have a spouse or parent that is a green card holder?
••••• If you have one of these family relationships, you may be eligible for a green card.
Employment-Based Green Card
Another route for obtaining lawful permanent residency is through employment. Under certain circumstances, an employer can petition for an employee’s green card. Employment-based green cards generally require that the employee has an advanced degree and works in field where few U.S. citizen workers are available.
If you are engaged to a U.S. Citizen, you may be eligible to apply for a green card.
If you are an asylee or refugee in the U.S., you may be eligible to apply.
If you have been a victim of certain crimes and you helped law enforcement in the investigation of the crime, you may be eligible to apply. Some of these crimes include:
••••• Attempted murder
••••• Aggravated assault
••••• Domestic violence
••••• Sexual assault or rape
••••• Black mail
••••• Involuntary servitude
If have been the victim of human trafficking, you may be eligible to apply.
A select few may apply through the Diversity Lottery program and be accepted.
Registry for those who have lived in the U.S. since before Jan 1. 1972
If you have lived in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972, you may be eligible to apply.
Unaccompanied Minors who are present in the U.S. without their parents
If you are an unaccompanied minor, living in the U.S. without your parents, you may be eligible to apply.
At Anderson & Benson, we love helping clients explore their situation and find the path that makes the most sense for them. If you are considering applying for a green card, please feel free to reach out to us today. We are standing by waiting to help.
Craig Ebert is an associate attorney who focuses on immigration law, criminal defense, and civil litigation. Prior to joining Anderson & Benson, he worked and clerked at various firms in the Salt Lake City area. He is fluent in Spanish. Learn more about Craig.