As an immigration lawyer, I field many inquiries each week where the potential client states – “How can I get a green card?” The question often makes me smile because 1.) the card is no longer green and 2.) the term is used to convey so many things in the immigration context that a further explanation from the client of what they really need is almost always required.
Typically, “green card” means the status of lawful permanent resident (LPR), which allows the foreign national to live and work in the United States permanently. Although there are many different ways to get status, foreign nationals typically apply either through an immediate family relationship with a US Citizen (or current “green card” holder), or through employment.
Get a Green Card through Family
For family-based immigration, the most common way to obtain permanent residence is to marry a US Citizen or permanent resident and apply for a spousal visa abroad or adjust status (if already here in the US). Foreign nationals who are living outside the US, but have not yet married their US Citizen fiance, can interview for a fiance visa (K1 visa) at their local US Embassy. The K1 visa will allow the fiance to move to the US for the express purpose of marrying a US Citizen and applying for permanent residence while inside the United States.
Other potential routes for permanent residence through family include sibling petitions and parent/child petitions. While permanent residence is often available immediately for parents and some children of US Citizens, siblings must wait several years for a green card to become available. Permanent residence through a US Citizen sibling is limited to a certain number of recipients each year. Because, in any giving year, there are more sibling applications than the number of allotted visas, those who did not receive a visa are placed on a waiting list and offered the next available visa. The current wait for most sibling visas is fifteen years (see US State Department visa bulletin).
If you would like explore permanent residence through family, please contact the immigration lawyer for a free phone consultation.