One of the ways of becoming a permanent United States citizen is through an immigrant visa called the green card. The USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), processes the green card applications. A green card gives a foreigner permission to lawfully reside and work in the United States, then qualify to apply for citizenship after three or five years.


There are different ways an individual can apply for a green card visa, in order to permanently become a United States citizen. After a person applies for the green card, the application passes through the USCIS, for approval and processing. If your green card application is approved by the USCIS, then you go for an interview at your local USCIS office or United States embassy.

The main green card categories available include:


The family members who are eligible for this include siblings, children, parents, and spouses. If you’re also a widow or widower of a United States citizen who died, you may also apply. Other extended family members don’t qualify for the family-based visa. This is not only applicable to United States citizens, but also to green cardholders. Anyone with permanent residence can file for an application to bring their family members. 


For those individuals who are legally married to an American citizen or green card holder, they are eligible to get green cards. The marriage has to be genuine for one to qualify and not a fraud. If your spouse is in the USA, you (the petitioner or sponsor) files Form I-30 (Petition For Alien Relative). This is an application to register permanent residence. If your spouse stays abroad, they file the Form I-130 and take it to their local consulate or embassy for processing. After the visa is approved and your spouse stays in the USA, you then apply for permanent residency through Form I-485.

The petitioner should submit supporting documents alongside Form I-130 including a marriage certificate, divorce papers from previous relationships (if applicable), passport photos of them and spouse. A United States citizen should submit certain documents as proof of citizenship including a copy of their passport, birth certificate copy, consular report of birth report copy or, naturalization certificate copy or, certificate if citizenship copy. A green card holder should submit a copy of Form I-551 (green card) or a copy of your passport demonstrating evidence of permanent residency.

When you’ve been married for less than two years, after your spouse receives permanent residency, they’ll have conditional permanent residency. To remove this, you and your spouse must file Form I-751 (Petition To Remove the Conditions of Residency). This should be done 90 days before the expiration of the conditional residency. 


The age and marital status of your children are highly taken into consideration. If you’re a United States citizen you can petition for your children who are under 21, unmarried children over 21, and maybe married children of any age. On the other hand, if you’re a green card holder, you can petition for unmarried children under 21 and maybe unmarried children over 21. You file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and submit it along with supporting documents. Your child can file Form I-485 ( Application to Register Permanent Residence) at the same time you file Form I-130 if they aren’t married. If they’re married or over 21, they file Form I-485 after they get a visa, this applies to permanent residents too. After filing you submit the documents to the USCIS. This process is for relatives who are in the United States.

For those relatives outside the United States, you file Form I-130 and the information will be approved by the local embassy. When petitioning for parents and siblings you file Form I-130 and submit it with supporting documents.


Different categories of workers are eligible to apply for the employment-based visa. In particular cases, the spouses and children may be eligible for a green card too. The categories include EB-1 such as athletes, professors, executive managers etc, EB-2 these are positions requiring master’s and bachelor’s degrees, EB-3 positions that require at least two years experience, positions that require less than two years experience and positions that require a bachelor’s degree from a university in the USA or an equivalent, EB-4 this category includes media professionals, religious workers etc, EB-5 foreigners who have invested around $500,000-$1,000,000 I’m a business in the United States.

You are eligible to apply for employment under the following circumstances:

a) You get a job offer with a United States employer, they’ll fill out the visa process for you

b) If you’re an entrepreneur investing in the USA.

c) Self-petition under “Aliens with Extraordinary Ability” or “National Interest Waiver”.

d) If you qualify for a certain job category such as religious worker among others.


This category of green card visas us eligible to human-trafficking victims, refugees and asylees, crime victims, and abuse victims.

Read More: How to Apply For a Social Security Card Online?


Every year, the United States government under the Diversity Visa Lottery Program (green card lottery) selects up to 50,000 individuals. The individuals are usually from regions such as Africa, Asia, among others. The applicants might live at their home countries when applying, or in the United States under different immigration statuses. The requirements are you must be a citizen in a foreign country with low immigration rate, and graduated from high school or with work experience. You apply online between Other 2nd and November 5th.


Apart from the green card categories discussed above, there are others that are issued by the United States government. The other categories include green card visas for long-time residents among others. The first thing you should determine is which category you fall under before applying for a green card. The waiting period for different visa categories varies. The easiest way remains to participate in the green card lottery because if you win, you instantly become a permanent resident of the United States. NYC immigration attorney Douglas Lightman’s Lightman Law Firm help hundreds every year with green card acquisition.

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