Who Can Apply for a Green Card
By: Harlan York
July 7, 2015

There are eight main categories of people who qualify for permanent residency.  No matter what avenue you take,  you need to be eligible for a green card under the law, known as the Immigration and Nationality Act, and moreover you need to be “admissible” to the United States of America.

Remember: if you don’t see that you easily fit into one of these categories, it’s worth contacting a top immigration lawyer who may have access to ways to help you that aren’t listed here.

The eight main categories of people who can apply for a green card are:

  1. People who are sponsored by a relative, or family-based immigration
  2. People who are sponsored through their work, or employment-based immigration.
  3. Refugees, winners of political asylum status can apply.
  4. People selected for the visa lottery are candidates for green cards.
  5. Victims of Violence such as VAWA and U Visa holders
  6. Religious workers
  7. Since the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, people who need protection from human trafficking may apply and be protected. For more information read my blog post on the T Visa
  8. A handful of other, rarer options including Cuban Adjustment Act as well as investment based green cards.

The first three categories are the most common.

Family immigration

Certain relatives of United States citizens – called immediate relatives – are not placed on waiting lists with annual limits on how many green cards are available. Immediate relatives include:

  • Parents of a United States citizen over age 21
  • Husbands and wives of United States citizens
  • Unmarried children under age 21 of United States citizens

Other relatives of United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are placed in categories which require them to wait for a green card, sometimes for very lengthy periods.

Employment-based immigration    

If you seek a green card through an employment offer, you can either be eligible immediately if you are in the most elite categories of skill and accomplishments in your field, or wait longer periods of time in other job classifications.

Refugees and Political Asylum                    

Those people who apply for green cards in this area – in which the United States affords protection from persecution in other countries – typically wait one year to file for green cards after a grant of such protection.

Remember that getting a green card is never guaranteed, no matter what category you fall into. Contacting a top immigration lawyer is the best way to ensure your success in applying for permanent residency in the US.

About Harlan York

The first-ever attorney in New Jersey to win “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers, Harlan York is former immigration chair of the NJ State Bar Association and former co-chair for the NY State Bar Association CFLS Committee on Immigration. He currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Practice Management Committee.

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Harlan York & Associates practices law in the areas of Immigration, Deportation Defense, Family Immigration, Corporate Immigration, Naturalization throughout Essex County – Hudson County – Morris County – Passaic County – Somerset County – Middlesex County – Bergen County – New Jersey -Immigration Lawyer – NJ Immigration Lawyer – Jersey City-Newark-Paterson Passaic Elizabeth Edison Woodbridge Toms River Hamilton Trenton Camden Clifton Passaic Garfield Wallington Cherry Hill East Orange Passaic Union City Bayonne Irvington Old Bridge Lakewood North Bergen Vineland Union Wayne Parsippany-Troy Hills New Brunswick Plainfield Bloomfield Perth Amboy East Brunswick West New York West Orange Hackensack Atlantic City Kearny Mount Laurel Montclair Essex Hoboken North Brunswick Belleville. In addition to serving clients in New York, Pennsylvania, the greater United States, and Internationally.

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