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How to Apply For a Green Card

Updated: Feb. 24, 2020

Public Charge Final Rule goes into effect Feb. 24, 2020.
USCIS will reject any affected application or petition that does not include Form I-944 received on or after Feb. 24, 2020.

Important: SimpleCitizen application packages will include Form I-944 after Feb. 24, 2020. If you have questions about Public Charge or your application, please contact SimpleCitizen support.

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Getting a Green Card means you have been authorized to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.

In addition to living and working in the U.S. permanently, there are numerous other benefits of getting a green card:

Green Card
  • You can now sponsor family applying for their own green cards.
  • You may travel outside the U.S. and return without disrupting your status.
  • Once you’ve had your green card for five years, you may apply to become a U.S. citizen.
  • You are eligible to receive Social Security benefits after 10 years of work.
  • You qualify for in-state tuition.

How to Become a Permanent Resident

There are a few different ways you may become a green card holder:

  • Sponsorship by a family member in the United States.
  • Sponsorship by an employer’s offer of permanent employment in the United States or through your own entrepreneurship.
  • Through attaining refugee or asylee status or through another humanitarian program.

To qualify for a green card, you must fall into one of the available immigrant categories.

Available Immigrant Categories:

a. Family-Based

You may qualify for a green card if you are:

  • An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. This includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens age 21 or older.
  • Another family member of a U.S. citizen. This includes unmarried children over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens age 21 or older.
  • A family member of a lawful permanent resident. This includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring lawful permanent resident.

If you fall into one of the above categories, you can learn how to prepare a family-based green card application with SimpleCitizen here.

In addition to the above categories, being a member of another special category may qualify you to get a green card based on family. These include being a:

  • Battered spouse or child
  • A K nonimmigrant
  • A person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States
  • A V nonimmigrant
  • A widow(er) of a U.S. citizen

Important to note: There is an order of preference for people who wish to immigrate to the U.S. based on family. First preference goes to the first category listed above, immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen. To see the complete order of preference for family members, visit the USCIS website.

b. Job or Employment-Based

You may qualify for a green card based on a job offer or your plans to invest in the U.S. economy and create jobs. The employment-based category includes:

  • Green card through a job offer. This is also known as sponsorship through an employer — in other words, when an employer
  • Green card through investment or entrepreneurship. Immigrant investors/entrepreneurs who are investing in a U.S. – based business that creates new U.S. jobs may be eligible for a green card.

Green card through special categories of jobs. You may be able to get a green card based on having a past or current job in one of the following special categories set forth by the U.S. government:

  • Afghan/Iraqi translator
  • Armed forces member
  • Broadcaster
  • International organization employee
  • Iraqi who assisted the U.S. government
  • Afghan who assisted the U.S. government
  • NATO-6 Nonimmigrant
  • Panama Canal employee
  • Physician National Interest Waiver
  • Religious worker

c. Refugee or Asylum Status

You may be able to get a green card through your status as a refugee or asylee.

  • If you’re a refugee, the law requires you to apply for your green card within a year of entering the U.S.
  • If you have been granted asylum in the U.S., the law requires you to apply for your green card within a year of asylum status being granted.

Filing an Immigrant Petition

If you belong to one of the above categories, next you will need an immigrant petition filed on your behalf. The petition establishes the basis for your immigration and the classification or category in which you belong.

  • For people immigrating based on family, the petitioner will file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Click here to start a family-based petition.
  • For people immigrating based on employment, the petitioner will file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

How to find out if you are eligible to apply

Everyone who wishes to get an immigrant visa (and apply for any subsequent status adjustment) must prove that they are eligible for admission to the United States.

What would make someone inadmissible? The grounds of inadmissibility are set by Congress and are particular to the category under which you are immigrating. These factors include:

  • Financial reasons. The relative who sponsors you must be able to support you.
  • Health-related reasons. You cannot have a disease that makes you a public health risk.
  • Immigration history. If you’ve ever entered the U.S. illegally or overstayed a visa by six months or longer, you may be deemed inadmissible.
  • Criminal history. Applicants who have been charged and/or convicted of certain crimes, such as violent felonies, drug offenses and terrorism, may be deemed inadmissible.

SimpleCitizen’s Eligibility Quiz

In order to make sure you are eligible to apply and that you choose the correct application for your situation, you can use SimpleCitizen’s free eligibility quiz here.

By answering just a few easy questions you can determine if you are eligible to apply. Here’s how it works:


If you have a questions about your eligibility or are unsure how to get started, here are a few options:

Sign up for SimpleCitizen & take the guesswork out of the Green Card process

You don’t have to try to navigate the green card process yourself, and you don’t have to pay outrageous attorney fees. SimpleCitizen’s easy to use software will guide you through the whole green card application.

Apply for a green card at the fraction of the cost of using an attorney — with all the comfort of having a guide along the way.

Your American dream awaits you, and SimpleCitizen can help you achieve it.

Click here to start your application.

Updated on February 24, 2020

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