How Does One Get a Green Card?

immigrantsDid you know that the number of undocumented immigrants grew by 27% between the years 2000 and 2009? Two years later, there were about 11.5 million undocumented workers in the U.S. and in 2011, 409,849 faced deportation.

Socioeconomic circumstances often force people to break immigration law and illegally move to the United States, but with a green card, immigrants have the freedom to leave and enter the country, to go to school in the United States, and to seek employment here. It grants immigrants the same rights as American citizens, while retaining their native country’s citizenship.

If you’re interested in obtaining a green card, the first step is to make sure that you’re eligible for one. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, you must fall under one of the categories established by the Immigration and Nationality Act, have an immigrant petition filed and approved, have an immigrant visa ready, and be admissible to the United States.

If eligible, immigrants can obtain a green card one of five ways: through an employer, through a family member, through an investment, through refugee or asylum status, and through the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Getting a green card through an immediate family member is the fastest way to get one. Spouses of U.S. citizens, children of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens, stepchildren and stepparents of U.S. citizens all count as immediate family members in this case.

The next best way for immigrants to get a green card would be through an employer, as there’s a total of 140,000 green cards offered to skilled workers needed by the American market. In these situations, immigrants usually have to have a job already being offered to them, and the employer must prove that they haven’t found any other willing and able citizens they can hire in the immigrants’ stead.

The Diversity Visa Lottery makes 50,000 green cards available every year to immigrants from foreign countries that have low immigration rates to the United States. Winners are able to bring their spouses and unmarried children under age 21 with them, as well.

Though it’s tricky to qualify for and obtain a green card, its benefits are numerous. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to ask in the comments.

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Richard Herman is a nationally-known immigration attorney with 20+ years of experience representing families and businesses in all aspects of immigration law. Richard was voted for inclusion in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© and listed in Super Lawyers© for ten consecutive years, Richard is the founder of the Herman Legal Group, an immigration law firm serving clients in over 12 languages from offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Detroit, whose attorneys have represented diverse clientele, from Fortune 500 companies to undocumented workers, from technology entrepreneurs to NFL teams. He is the co-author of the acclaimed book, Immigrant, Inc. ---Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). Richard has appeared FOX News (The O’Reilly Factor), ABC News 20/20, National Public Radio, and has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Inc., PC World, Computerworld, CIO, TechCrunch and InformationWeek.

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