When you are looking to emigrate to the United States, you should know there are multiple green card categories. Green cards are not a one-size-fits-all solution; there are different types for different circumstances, all with different quotas and potential wait times.

What Is a Green Card, and How Does It Work?

A green card holder is also known as a “Permanent Resident.” These are immigrants who have been granted the privileges by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) of living in the United States and being able to seek employment. The term “green card” comes from the identification card permanent residents are required to carry at all times; it was green from 1946 until 1964, then was reverted to green in 2010. Permanent residents who are caught without their green card can face steep fines and penalties levied by the government.

After a permanent resident has lawfully resided in the United States for at least five years, they can apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Unlike U.S. citizens, permanent residents cannot vote, hold government jobs, or run in elections; however, they must pay income taxes, and young men must register for the Selective Service.

Green Card Categories – What’s the Difference?

According to the USCIS, legal immigration is only permitted through the following channels. Most of these categories have specific quotas that limit immigration each year.

• Immigration through a family member: This could be a spouse, child, or another relative. Note that only immediate relatives do not have a quota; other categories have wait times of 8-21 years.
• Immigration through employment: An employer sponsors an employee’s resident status. Most of these have no wait; only EB-3 has a wait time of up to 11 years, depending on industry.
• Immigration through investment: Investing up to 1 million USD will allow for permanent residency, with little or no wait.
• Diversity Lottery: The U.S. State Department, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, provides 55,000 visas annually to applicants from countries with historically low immigration to the U.S.
• Refugee/Political Asylum: While there is no quota for asylum seekers, you should be prepared to show proof as to why you are in need of asylum.

Know What Type of Green Card You Need To Apply For

Because there are different categories of green card for different scenarios, it’s important to learn about the different types and find out which one is right for you. Are you trying to bring over your spouse or young child? You would need the ‘Immediate Family’ visa. Getting a job in America? Your employer can sponsor you with an Employment visa.

For questions about green card categories or the immigration process, you should consult a knowledgeable immigration lawyer. They have the tools and experience to answer your questions and walk you through the entire application process.

You don’t have to find answers about the green card categories on your own. Contact our legal team at Lee Law Firm now.