IMMIGRANT VISAS (PERMANENT RESIDENCE OR “GREEN CARD”)
Immigrant visas grant permanent resident status (or a “Green Card”), which allows foreign nationals to permanently reside and work in the United States, as well as to travel in and out of the U.S. Generally, when an foreign national obtains a green card, his or her accompanying spouse (wife or husband) and unmarried children under age 21 also obtain green cards. Depending on the way in which permanent residence was obtained, after three to five years, a person with permanent resident status may apply for citizenship.
“Extraordinary” or “Exceptional” Ability Foreign nationals of exceptional or extraordinary ability in their particular field of work, outstanding professors or researchers, and members of professions holding an advanced degree may be eligible for an expedited green card process. This allows scientists, artists, physicians, university professors, researchers, musicians, etc., to obtain a green card with or without a sponsor. (See also, “O” Visa).
Alien (Employment) Labor Certification Based on unavailability of U.S. workers in the workforce, a U.S.employer may enable an alien to obtain a green card through an offer of employment. Upon approval by the Department of Labor, an immigrant petition may be filed demonstrating that the sponsor/petitioner has the ability to pay a certain prevailing wage.
Once these steps are completed, an applicant may proceed with the filing of a green card application as soon as his or her priority date becomes current.
Qualified investors and their families may be eligible to enter the United States on this type of visa if they invest $500.000 to $1.000.000 in an existing or new business in the United States. On the basis of the business, investors may at a later time proceed with an application for permanent residence (See also, “E” Visas).
Religious ministers, priests and ordained religious persons may qualify for the green card through sponsorship by a congregation (e.g., Mosque, Church, Synagogue, etc.). (See also, “R” Visa).
United States citizens may sponsor spouses, parents, adult children and siblings (brothers or sisters) for permanent residence. Green Card holders can sponsor only spouses or unmarried children.
Diversity Visa Program
Through an annual “lottery” process, the United States randomly distributes 55,000 green cards to nationals of designated countries. Participants must have either 12 years (or more) of education or 2 years experience as a skilled worker. Winners’ spouses and children under 21 years of age also receive green cards.