Before the government changed hands in 2016, moving to the United States was relatively easy compared to other countries. Now Immigration policies have become stricter, hence, the overall process of gaining permanent residence officially in the country has become harder than it used to be.
You don’t want to be caught roaming about the streets of any city in the US without legal immigrant papers, as law enforcement and security officials have been empowered to deal with such people. However, there is no cause for alarm as there is a way to gain permanent resident status in the country.
The only way to peacefully live in the United States permanently as an immigrant is by going through the process obtained by the laws of the land. The first and vital weapon you need is an IMMIGRANT VISA. This is also known as a “green card”.
There are several ways through which you can acquire a US immigrant visa. These include:
- Through Family Ties.
- Through Investment.
- Through Potential Employment.
- Through other special categories defined in US laws.
Note that there are a limited number of visas that can be gotten annually in each category, and there are limits applied to some countries under US laws. However, if the limit is reached before your application is approved, you’ll be added to a waitlist, and your application would be processed once there is an available slot.
Let’s now look at how you can go about applying for your green card under the various categories.
US immigrant visa by family ties: A qualified individual to which you have certain family ties has to do the application for you. He/she will be the one to submit the application for the immigrant visa to the authorities.
There are two types of qualified individuals who can submit an application on your behalf: a US citizen, or an immigrant who has gained his immigrant visa (green card), and subsequently, permanent residence through these same methods described here.
A US citizen can submit an application for his/her spouse, son, daughter, parent, brother, or sister. On the other hand, an immigrant who is a permanent resident in the US can apply for an immigrant visa on behalf of his/her spouse or single (unmarried) son or daughter.
Any of the above mentioned can help you get your immigrant visa by submitting an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative to the office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
US immigrant visa by investment: This is the US Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the EB-5 visa. It simply means you can get your US green card by investing an amount of between $500,000 and $1M in a US-based business that can employ at least 10 workers.
US immigrant visa by potential employment: This is meant for skilled workers who are seeking permanent employment in the United States. You would usually go through this process if you’ve successfully gone through the recruitment process of an organization in the US, and have been offered a position in the organization.
Your potential employers can help you get your green card by submitting an I-140 Petition for Alien Worker to the office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services — the USCIS.
In some special cases, a potential employee can apply for an immigrant visa directly. If you fall into this category, instead of going through your employers, you submit the I-140 Petition to the USCIS directly.
Special us immigrant visa programs: There are some special immigrant visa programs established under the laws of the United States, to which the application flow for the other categories above does not apply. These include former US government employees from other countries, Iraqi/Afghan Translators and Interpreters, Iraqis and Afghans who were employed by/on behalf of the US government, Religious Workers, and citizens from countries with low rates of immigration to the US (under the annual US diversity immigration program).