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List of primary avenues to U.S. Permanent Residency (“Green Card” status)

The chart below provides a list of the primary avenues for obtaining U.S. Permanent Residency (“Green Card” status) (also known as “Immigrant Classifications and Visas”). The chart is divided into three main groupings: (1) “General Family-Based Immigration” concerns the general types of family relationships which U.S. immigration law recognizes as providing a right to file a petition for permanent residency of the respective family members, and which is available for all nationalities; (2) “Employment-Based Immigration” concerns the general types of employment relationships, investments, or occupations which U.S. immigration law recognizes as providing a right to file a petition for permanent residency; and (3) “Other Immigrant Channels” concerns various miscellaneous avenues of petitioning for U.S. permanent residency.

It is important to note that in deciding which avenue to proceed that processing times are critical. For example, many categories are subject to severe backlogs of many years which may render the category useless. For this purpose, one should consult the Visa bulletin.

Disclaimer: note that this list may not be exhaustive of all of the avenues for seeking U.S. permanent residency which are available. It is providing for general reference purposes only.

 

 

 

General Family-Based Immigration

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

 

 

 

Spouses of US citizens

 

 

Children (unmarried under 21 years of age) US citizens

 

 

Parents of U.S. Citizens (A USC must be over the age of 21 to petition for his/her parent).

 

First Preference

 

 

 

Unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years of age of USC

 

Second Preference

 

 

 

Spouses Legal Permanent Resident (LPR)

 

 

Children of Legal Permanent Resident (LPR)

 

 

Unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years of age of LPR

 

Third Preference

 

 

 

Married children of US Citizen.

 

Fourth Preference

 

 

 

Siblings of adult USC

 

 

 

 

 

 


Employment-Based Immigration

EB-1: First Preference

 

 

 

Individuals with “Extraordinary Ability”

 

 

Outstanding Professors and Researchers

 

 

Multinational Executives and Managers

 

 

 

 

EB-2: Second Preference

 

 

 

Professionals with advanced degrees (including Special: Physicians in Underserved Areas)

 

 

Persons with exceptional ability

 

 

 

 

EB-3: Third Preference

 

 

 

Professionals and Skilled workers

 

 

Oher Workers

 

 

 

 

EB-4: Fourth Preference

 

 

 

Special Religious workers

 

 

 

 

 

SK: Certain Retired International Organization Employees, and family members

 

 

SK-1: Certain Retired International Organization Employees

 

 

SK-2: Spouse of SK-1

 

 

SK-3: Certain Unmarried Sons or Daughters of an International Organization Employee

 

 

SK-4: Certain Spouses of a deceased International Organization Employee

   

 

EB-5: Fifth Preference

 

 

 

Employment creation Investors

   

Other Immigrant Channels

A-1 or A-2 adjustment based on compelling reasons

U.S. Immigration law provides for 50 visas per year for A-1 or A-2 nonimmigrants to adjust status to U.S. permanent residents if they are no longer maintaining status and can show compelling reasons demonstrating the he or she is unable to return to the country represented by the respective government, and that the admission would be in the national interest, and the individual would not otherwise be inadmissible.

 

 

 

 Adoption (Internationa)Permanent residency for children who are adopted.
   

 

Asylum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Iraqi Exemption to Asylee Adjustment Cap

 

 

 

 

Country-Specific Adjustments

 

 

 

Certain Cubans (CAA)

 

 

Certain Haitians (HRIFA)

 

 

Certain Hmongs

 

 

Certain Iraqis, under Iraqi Exemption to Asylee Adjustment Cap

 

 

Certain Nicaraguans and Central Americans: NACARA 202 and NACARA 203

 

 

Certain Syrian Asylees and Refugees

 

 

Certain Nationals of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos

 

Diversity Lottery

 

 

 

To apply for visa lottery, applicants must be a native of a qualifying country who meet standards of training or education

 

Habitual (ResidenceMicronesia)

 

 

 

Relates to individuals from Micronesia

 

 

 

 

SD: Immigrant Religious Workers

(Check whether same as EB4)

 

 

 

 

Private (Immigration) Bills

Special laws which Congress passed on behalf of particular individuals.

 

 

 

 

Refugee Resettlement

Provisions for refugees under refugee resettlement.

 

 

 

 

Registry

Permanent Resident Status possible after continuous residence in U.S. since January 1, 1972

 

SB-1 Returning Residents

Provisions for individuals who had U.S. permanent residency but left the U.S. for extended time.

 

 

 

 

VAWA: Victims of Abuse

Battered immigrants spouses or children of US citizens

 

 

 

 

Amnesty (Expired)

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) (now expired)

 

 

 

 

Immigration through Immigration Court Order

Under certain circumstances, an Immigration Court or other court exercising power of Immigration Court may grant U.S. Permanent residency.

 

 

 

 

Immigration through the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE)

Special provisions for spouses of Lawful permanent residents and family members under LIFE (key benefits were only available for petitions filed during certain time period)

 

 

 

 

Other “Special Immigrants”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Search for H1B Visa Employers

You can search for "H1B Visa Employers" using this database, which was compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources. This database identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas in the past, or who have at least started the process by filing for the LCA. If you find an employer you are interested in, you can then contact them to inquire as to whether they have any current job openings in your field. Please tell your friends about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for H1B Visa employers.

"FMG Friendly" Employers

Foreign Medical Graduates ("FMGs") should be aware that there are "FMG Friendly" employers, and "FMG Unfriendly" employers. This database (compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources) identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas for foreign medical graduates in the past (or at least started the process by filing for the LCA), and who can therefore be deemed "FMG Friendly". Please tell your colleagues about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for "FMG Friendly" employers in a given state.

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