By:  Richard Hanus, Esq.

Published June 20, 2021

The Trump administration was not a positive force for immigrants in the US. However, recent changes made by the Biden administration make things far less difficult for immigrants to acquire a green card.

If you’re interested in how to get a green card, first consider what categories of eligibility are available.  In this regard, there are various avenues to green card, and each have their own distinct requirements and complexities.

Here are some of the green card options you should know about.

What is a Green Card?

First of all, a Green Card allows a person to live and work in the United States permanently. To get one, there is a lengthy process that can take anywhere from 1 to 10 or more years before you see results. Additionally, your application usually requires a sponsor – whether a qualifying family member or the right employer –  from the United States.

Many companies take advantage of avenues toward sponsoring foreign nationals in order to retain employees and bring in new workers. In most cases, these employers are covering application costs and legal fees, often because federal statute and regulations mandate employers to cover significant portions of these payments.

However, an employment based Green Card is only one of the Green Card options available.

The Different Types of Green Cards

Although they all function similarly once you get them, there are six major types of Green Cards available to apply for:

  • Family
  • Employment
  • Special Immigrant
  • Refugee or Asylee
  • Investment
  • Victims of Abuse

Whether you are eligible or not depends on your situation.

If you have a qualifying family member in the US, you can apply for the Green Card through Family and as long as other important requirements are met.  An exceptional or skilled worker can apply through Employment, a process that typically involves at test of the labor market and proving the unavailability of US workers to fill the position . The Special Immigrant category includes a religious worker, international broadcaster, and other unique, assorted avenues of eligibility.

Anyone granted asylum or refugee status can apply to become a lawful permanent resident (Green Card) after having been in asylum or refugee status for more than a year.  In addition, large financial investors meeting stringent requirements along with victims of human trafficking, crime, or familial abuse are also given priority for Green Cards.

How to Get a Green Card

The application process differs between the various types of Green Cards. Once you’ve determined your eligibility, the series of next steps are dictated by the specific requirements detailed in governing statutes and regulations.

In the case of an employment based Green Card, there are various options, but in most situations, the process will require an interested employer with an open position, a test of the labor market to confirm the absence of US workers to fill the position, and a foreign national with the right experience and/or education to fulfill the job requirements.

Qualifying positions range from jobs requiring the highest level of expertise and education, to unskilled positions requirement very little experience or education.

The employment based green card process involves a series of stages and complicated requirements.    Only after one stage of the process is approved, can the next stage go forward.   Once each stage is completed and approved, green card issuance will follow.

Regardless of the type of eligibility, each foreign national applicant will you have to provide biometrics, undergo an interview (although for applicants adjusting status in the U.S., an interview may be waived) and then receive the final decision. Overall, the process can take around three years or more to complete, with applicants from high visa demand countries such as India, China and the Philippines often facing even longer waits.

Get Help Becoming Legal

The various types of Green Card options and processes can be intimidating for employers and foreign nationals seeking to move to the US. Apply without adhering to the law’s specific requirements,  you could waste months of your time.

When in doubt, seek some help getting everything arranged. At USA Visa Counsel, you’ll get access to an immigration lawyer with decades of experience in the field. Contact us today to learn more.


PUBLISHED June 20, 2021– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2021, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois