There’s nothing more comforting than having a reliable space to call your own year after year. If you’re tired of living in the U.S. with uncertainty or looking to move to America, you can achieve your dream of permanence by attaining a green card.
But a green card isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many different types of people who come to this country, so there are many different types of green cards to meet their needs.
Before rushing to get a green card, assess your circumstances to determine which green card is most relevant to your situation.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, that’s okay. The hardest part is getting started. Read on to learn about green cards and how you can work towards a more permanent future for you and your loved ones in the U.S.
What Is a Green Card?
A green card allows an immigrant to live and work as a permanent resident in the United States. As full-time residents, green card holders gain some of the rights and responsibilities that U.S. citizens hold.
Protection under the law, the right to own property, and the right to attend public schools are a few perks that green card holders enjoy.
However, you must sign up for the draft and avoid participation in criminal activity to maintain your green card status. You are also limited to how long you can travel outside the U.S.
A green card provides some benefits, but it does not promise the full set of privileges that U.S. citizenship guarantees. With this in mind, treat green card status as the first but important step to reaching your citizenship milestones.
What are the Different Types of Green Cards?
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “How many green card types are there?”
It isn’t easy to cover all the types in one sitting. To determine which green card works best for you, you can start by doing your own research. It’s also helpful to visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website for more information.
In the meantime, here are a few categories to consider when deciding how you want to initiate the green card process.
Attaining a green card through a direct connection in the U.S. is one of the more popular ways people choose to begin their green card journey.
If you are the fiancé of a U.S. citizen or the child of the fiancé of a U.S. citizen, then you have a straight path to reaching green card status.
Familial connections also make it easier to obtain a green card. Spouses and parents of U.S. citizens are examples of family-based immigration. But be careful. This category is restricted to immediate family and, in some cases, age ranges.
Another common route people take is through employment, which many workers use to bring their families over. But they need to secure sponsorship from an employer and work a period of time before this can happen.
The employment green card isn’t for everyone, though. Workers in specific professions, skill levels, and educational backgrounds are preferred. So make sure you fit the requirements before seeking a work-based green card.
In addition to employed immigrants, there are a few other professions that qualify for a green card. Members of the clergy and those helping dependent children are a couple of groups encouraged to apply.
If you have previous extensive involvement in the U.S. government or military, you may also be eligible for green card status.
While there are more examples of special cases, this category remains very limited. Be sure to conduct thorough research to find out if you meet the requirements.
DV Lottery Winners
Known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Lottery Program, this lottery allows foreign citizens to try their luck at becoming a U.S. citizen.
The lottery occurs every year in the fall for about four to five weeks. Citizens of certain foreign countries who have a high school degree or equivalent work experience are welcome to apply.
While it’s exciting to receive some immigration help from chance itself, you should never expect to win the DV Lottery. Waves of applicants apply each year, so you should keep your hopes in check.
Human Rights Cases
This section covers a range of situations involving human rights. Refugees and asylees, victims of human trafficking and crime, and victims of abuse can all apply for a green card.
It’s important to note that these categories have been grouped together here. But they are treated as separate groupings by the immigration system and provide unique pathways to green cards.
These categories have also become uncertain in the face of a shifting health and political landscape. The global pandemic has impacted the flow of peoples worldwide, but the U.S. government has taken an even stronger stance in this situation.
Circumstances may change in the future, but be careful when choosing an option. This area has been deeply affected in recent years.
How Can I Apply?
If you’re wondering how to apply for a green card, know that you can complete the process by following the proper steps and staying on top of tasks.
You’ll need to find someone to sponsor you, usually an employer or family member. Once you receive sponsorship, you’ll send an application to Immigration Services. The organization then sends your approved application to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Assuming all goes well, you can apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy (if you live abroad). There are fees along the way, and the path you take can look different from other paths. This is merely an example.
So if you’re still thinking about applying for a green card, visit online U.S. government resources for up-to-date information on green cards.
Make Your Dreams a Reality
While applying for green card status sounds like a difficult journey, many roads lead to your destination.
The different types of green cards allow for flexibility, so your path to a more permanent status can be as unique as your circumstances. As long as you follow the steps and remain persistent, you can secure a better life for you and your loved ones.
Achieving a green card can be a time-consuming process, so get started. And if you need more help with green cards and other issues, check out our Life Hacks section for more life advice.