For many people, applying for a permanent residence permit is the most important step towards living and/or working in the U.S.
Immigration visas, the so-called "green cards", permit foreign citizens to live and work in the U.S. without being limited to one specific employer. They grant aliens all rights and obligations of U.S. citizens, with the exception of the right to vote, the right to be chosen for jury service, and the right to be elected to a government office.
There are a number of ways to obtain a green card. On these pages, we will give you an overview of all categories and the respective entry requirements. The basic categories are employment-based and family-based visas, and the green card lottery.
PLEASE NOTE: in case you are not directly qualified for an immigration visa, you might try checking your options for non-immigration visas.
Persons of national interest to the U.S.
The U.S. are always trying to attract highly-qualified foreign workers to their own country. In order to achieve this, they established the "Priority Workers" category - this grants the best and brightest professionals on the international market to apply for a green card. MORE
Persons with exceptional qualifications/abilities
Two groups of people may qualify for a green card in the "Second Preference" category EB-2:
The EB-3 category is probably one of the most popular green card categories in U.S. immigration law. This category gives people who don't have extraordinary/exceptional skills, no advanced degrees and no executive positions in multinational companies the chance to obtain an immigration visa. MORE
"Special immigrants" describes a small, heterogeneous group of people who may immigrate into the U.S. due to political or moral reasons.
This group includes:
With the Immigration Act of 1990, the fifth employment-based immigration category was established: the Immigration Investor Program.
For the first time, investors could directly apply for a green card. MORE
Generally, U.S. immigration law differentiates between two categories of family-based immigration visas. MORE
Not only U.S. citizens, but also green card holders (permanent residents) have the right to sponsor certain relatives for family-based immigration under U.S. law - to a very limited extent at least. MORE
The easiest way to get a green card is the green card lottery. Every year, the U.S. government provides green cards through the Diversity Visa Program. While it does require a significant amount of luck, for many people it is the only way of realizing their dream of living in the U.S. MORE