A closer look: permanent residency (green card) eligibility

Although a family member or employer often petitions U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for permanent residency on an immigrant’s behalf, there are other ways to qualify. Depending on the immigrant visa preference category, however, the wait time may range from months to years.

Categories are important because USCIS limits the total number of immigrant visa numbers in each category, which is somewhat like a queue for individuals seeking a green card. Those numerical caps are further limited by country. For certain family-sponsored petitions, such as spouses, parents, or unmarried children under the age of 21, an immigrant visa number is immediately assigned. 

An employer in the United States may also sponsor an individual for permanent residence eligibility. Employment preference categories have many subdivisions, based on educational level and the field of employment.

The U.S. Department of State also sponsors a Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, informally referred to as the green card lottery. The lottery encourages individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply. Up to 50,000 immigrant visas might be offered through the program.

Another path to permanent residency might by a labor certification or a qualified immigrant petition. In the case of unlawful residency, however, it is important to remember that accrual continues until the adjustment. This means that deportation may be a very real threat in the meantime.

As this discussion suggests, immigration procedures can be technical and quite detailed. For a law firm that focuses on this area of law, however, the intricacies are well known. We help our immigration clients maximize their strategy.

Source: “Adjustment of Status,” copyright 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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