Coming to the United States to live somewhere safe, seek opportunity, or start a family are all valid reasons to permanently live in the country. But as someone who is just beginning to explore the idea of planting roots here, you may be facing uncertainty. Perhaps you’ve heard of a friend getting a green card, but that’s as far as your research has gone. Before rushing into the approval process, it can be helpful to learn if applying for a green card is the route you want to take.
From there, if you are confident that you want to make America your forever home, the next step is to see if you would be eligible to do so. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, here are the following ways an individual can qualify for a green card.
- Family: Individuals who have an immediate and non-immediate family member who is already a permanent citizen of the U.S. can use this connection to seek sponsorship. This includes being a spouse, parent, brother, sister, fiancé, widow or married or unmarried child of a U.S. citizen.
- Employment: People who want a job in the U.S. can also seek citizenship. This includes folks with exceptional experience as athletes, artists, scientists, educators or business professionals. Immigrants who hold advanced degrees or skill-based workers can also apply.
- Refugee or asylee: After a minimum of a year in asylum or refugee status, these individuals can apply.
- Human trafficking, crime and abuse victims: Victims of human trafficking and crime with specific nonimmigrant visas can seek citizenship. Additionally, victims of abuse by a U.S. citizen, including spouses, children and parents, can apply.
- Special immigrant: Other qualifications include being a religious worker, an abandoned juvenile, an Afghanistan or Iraq national, an international broadcaster or an employee or family member of an employee of an international organization.
If you believe you fall into one of these categories, the next step would be to acquire and fill out the proper forms. It’s important to note that the list above isn’t extensive, and even when individuals are eligible, rejections can still happen. Plus, filling out government paperwork can be confusing for people who are already citizens of the U.S., so you shouldn’t hesitate to get the legal help you need.