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Both family and employment immigration can lead to green cards

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Family Immigration

Immigrating to the United States for family reunification or employment opportunities are two of the most common paths to obtaining a green card. This grants lawful permanent residency. Both pathways offer distinct routes to green cards.

Note that the information explored below is subject to change as U.S. law evolves. This is only one of a handful of important reasons why seeking legal guidance before commencing an immigration journey is generally wise.

Family-based immigration

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can sponsor certain family members for immigration. For U.S. citizens, this includes spouses, parents (if the sponsor is over 21), unmarried children under 21 and siblings. LPRs can sponsor spouses and unmarried children.

The process typically involves filing a petition, proving the legitimacy of the relationship, and the sponsor demonstrating the ability to financially support the family member. Once the petition is approved, and a visa becomes available, the family member can apply for a green card.

Employment-based immigration

The U.S. also offers various employment-based categories for obtaining a green card. These are typically categorized into five preference categories, ranging from EB-1 (priority workers, such as those with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors, and researchers, and multinational managers) to EB-5 (investors). Applicants usually need a job offer from a U.S. employer that will sponsor them. The employer often needs to obtain a labor certification, proving that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position. After the labor certification and visa petition are approved, the applicant can apply for a green card.

For both family and employment-based immigration, the final step to getting a green card can occur in two ways. If the individual is already in the U.S., they may be eligible for an adjustment of status – a process of converting their temporary status to permanent residency. If outside the U.S., they must go through consular processing in their home country.

The process of securing a green card involves several steps, including sponsorship, proving eligibility and potentially long waiting periods. However, successfully navigating this process leads to lawful permanent residency, opening the door to new opportunities and the eventual possibility of U.S. citizenship.