Green Cards

This page explains how to obtain a green card, also known as permanent residence.

Permanent residence enables a person to live and work in the United States for the rest of his life as long as he does not abandon his status or engage in conduct which renders him “inadmissible”.

Usually after three or five years, a permanent resident may apply tonaturalize and become a citizen of the United States. U.S. citizens may sponsor relatives much easier than can permanent residents. For example, while it may take five years for a permanent resident to obtain a green card for his spouse, for a U.S. citizen, the process takes only a few months.

Most people obtain green cards by being sponsored by their employers or by their relatives. This page contains dozens of articles and links explaining who qualifies and how the process works. Other people obtain permanent residence through the green card lottery, through asylum and through various other means.

Persons who are residing in the U.S. may be eligible adjust their status to permanent residents without leaving the U.S. However, if they have ever violated their lawful immigration status, they may be eligible to adjust their status only if they are:

(1) “Immediate Relatives” of a U.S. citizen;

(2) Qualify under section 245(i) and pay an appropriate fine;

(3) Qualify under section 245(k) if they are an employment-based immigrants; or

(4) Qualify under section 209 if they are asylees or refugees.

This page also describes the process of obtaining an immigrant visa abroad if a person is either residing in a foreign country, or does not wish to adjust status in the U.S.

However, if you are ineligible to adjust status to permanent resident in the U.S, be sure to carefully read our section entitled “Unlawful Presence and the 3/10 Year and Permanent Bars” before you decide whether to attempt to obtain an immigrant visa abroad.

Scroll down this page to learn how you can qualify to receive a green card, or how you can sponsor an employee or a relative for permanent residence.

How To Obtain a Green Card is divided into the following subtopics: