Foreign nationals have several ways to become permanent residents in the US, with the marriage-based green card being one of the most popular routes. However, not all immigrant visa applicants have marriage or any familial ties to a U.S. citizen.
If marriage isn’t an option, you can go to an immigration lawyer for application assistance. You can still qualify for a green card if you have outstanding skill sets or if your job meets one of the eligibility categories.
One of the relatively easy ways is through an employment-based immigrant visa.
Employment-Based Green Card
Foreign nationals who have job offers from U.S. employers have higher chances of getting an employment-based green card. Their employers often sponsor their green card applications. ;
Employees already in the US and those who have yet to move can file for an employment-based visa. Their employers will file the petition on their behalf.
Employment-based visas are divided into three categories based on preference:
- EB-1 (first preference):
- Remarkable researchers and professors
- Multinational executives or managers who meet certain criteria
- Foreign nationals with an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, or athletics
- EB-2 (second preference): Foreign nationals seeking national interest waiver (granted to workers with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in sciences, arts, or business)
- EB-3 (third preference):
- Skilled workers with at least 2 years of professional experience
- Professionals with a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent
Foreign nationals can also become permanent residents by investing in a U.S. enterprise.
Investment-Based Green Card
The investment-based green card or EB-5 is a popular option for foreign entrepreneurs. You’re eligible for a green card if you have invested or are actively investing at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise.
The investment-based green card is the most attractive route for entrepreneurs since you won’t have to wait for a job offer from a U.S. employer. However, the required investment amount can be a hurdle to many interested foreign nationals.
You can reduce the amount to $500,000 if you’re investing in a targeted employment area. These are locations with high unemployment and rural areas that need assistance in job opportunities for the residents.
If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for an employment-based or investment-based green card, you may be qualified to apply as a special immigrant.
Special Immigrant Green Card
Your occupation determines eligibility for a special immigrant green card. You can apply if you work as any of the following:
- International broadcaster: You’re going to work as a member of media for the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
- Religious worker: You’re a member of a religious denomination who will work for a non-profit religious organization in the US.
- NATO-6 employee: You’re an active or retired employee of NATO or an eligible international organization or a family member of such an employee.
- Afghan and Iraqi translators:
- Afghan and Iraqi translators who have worked as a translator for the U.S. government
- Iraqis employed by the government on or after March 20, 2003
- Afghans employed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
Apart from these professionals, the special immigrant green card is also applicable for minors who need juvenile court protection because of parent abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Before you apply for any category, evaluate your areas of interest and skills set through the lens of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services first. Seeking the assistance of a green card lawyer will also greatly benefit you. They’ll help demonstrate your competence and consider other permanent residency routes that you may be eligible for.