In this article, we will talk about different types of green cards and how future U.S. citizens can acquire them, as well as what it is necessary to apply for them and their costs.
There are different types of green cards
Depending on the purpose of immigrating to the U.S. there are several types of green cards:
1. Family-based green cards
These types of green cards are issued to the family members of U.S. citizens. These include spouses, parents, children, siblings and widows/widowers. The requirements, however, depend on who is sponsoring the green card and how close the family members are to the sponsor of the green card.
U.S. citizen who wishes to bring a family member to the country should always hire a family immigration lawyer to help them through the process and prepare them to fulfill all the requirements.
Family-based green cards are separated into several categories:
- the first preference or F1 is for unmarried children of the U.S. citizen (21 or older)
- the second preference or F2A is for spouses and unmarried children of the U.S. citizen (21 or under)
- the second preference or F2B is for unmarried children of the green card holder (21 and older)
- the third preference or F3 is for married children of U.S citizens
- the fourth preference or F4 is for siblings of the U.S citizens if the citizen is age 21 or older
2. Employment-based green cards
An employment-based green card is for people who seek employment in the U.S. There are five categories for receiving this green card, depending on what the immigrant’s skills are and if they can bring benefit the country.
Like family-based green cards, employment-based green cards come in several categories. The first four categories display the skills an employee can offer to their future employer. The employer can offer some sort of endorsement on sponsorship to the employee immigrating to the country.
Here is how the first four categories defer:
- the first preference or EB-1 is for people who achieved extraordinary accomplishments and display exceptional skills in fields like art, science education etc.
- the second preference or EB-2 is for people with advanced degrees (bachelor’s and master’s degree) and at least five years of relevant experience
- the third preference or EB-3 is for skilled workers with at least 2 of training and work experience, less skilled workers with jobs that require less than two years of experience and professionals whose job requires a BA, no matter if the degree is received in the US or another country
- the fourth preference or EB-4 is for “special immigrants” like military translators, media professionals or religious workers
For the first two categories of visas, it is necessary to document any training, national or international recognitions which show the immigrant is eligible for the green card. Fifth preference or EB-5 green cards are for investors with an investment of at least $500,000 for creating jobs in the USA.
3. Other types of green cards
A humanitarian green card is often issued for immigrants who seek asylum or are victims of crime or abuse. They can seek protection abroad as refugees or in the USA as asylum seekers.
Another type of green card is a diversity green card. Citizens that come from countries with a low rate of immigration to the U.S. can apply for a “green card lottery”, which awards 50,000 people immigrant visas.
There are green cards issued for specific countries. For example, Cuban natives or citizens can apply for a green card which is given by the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA).
Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) allows immigration to the USA to Liberian nationals who have been present in the U.S. since October 2014, as well as their spouses and underage children.
The process of applying for an immigrant visa
After applying for the green card, the immigrant’s sponsor files the petition for the immigration process with the U.S. authorities. After that, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) review the petition and approve it. After that, the immigrant files the green card application.
The application is processed by the local consulate in the immigrant’s home country and their biometrics will be taken before the interview takes place.
It is also important to do a medical exam before the interview, which includes physical and mental evaluation, a review of the applicant’s medical history and vaccination screening. It also includes checking if the applicant has any alcohol or drug abuse in their medical history.
At the interview the person applying for the immigration is told if their application has been approved. The passport is returned to the applicant with a visa that allows them to travel to the USA. The green card is then mailed to the immigrant’s address in the USA.
How long does it take to receive the green card?
Wait time for receiving the green card can take months or even years. It depends on what type of green card is being requested. For a family-based green card, it could take months or sometimes even years because of the annual cap at which the cards can be issued.
The preference category also determines how long a person will wait for their green card; F1 preference applicants could wait a year or two, while F4 preference applicants could wait a decade or even longer.
There are 140,000 employment-based green cards are issued in the U.S every year, so the wait time is similar to the family-based ones.