Green Cards: How to Obtain Permanent Residency in the United States

Book a Consultation
100% Secure & Confidential
100+ Reviews

Are you wondering about “how to obtain permanent residency”? Well permanent residency, commonly known as getting a Green Card, is the goal for many immigrants to the United States. A Green Card provides lawful permanent residence in the US, allowing individuals to live and work in the country indefinitely. However, obtaining a Green Card can be a complex and lengthy process, with several options available to eligible applicants. Depending on your personal situation, you may qualify for a green card in different ways. With the green card attorneys at Yemi Getachew Immigration Law Office, you can be sure you use the most appropriate qualification based on your circumstances.

In this article, we will explore how to obtain permanent residency in the United States, outlining the various pathways available and the requirements for each.

The Benefits of Having a Green Card

There are numerous benefits to obtaining a green card in the United States. Perhaps the most significant advantage is the ability to live and work in the country permanently. With a green card, individuals can take advantage of all the opportunities that the U.S. has to offer, including access to education, healthcare, and job opportunities.

Another significant benefit of having a green card is the ability to travel outside the United States without the need for a visa. This means that green card holders can travel abroad for business or personal reasons without the worry of being unable to return to the U.S. In addition, green card holders are also eligible for certain government benefits, such as social security and Medicare, which can provide important financial support.

To obtain a green card, there are several options available, including family-based, employment-based, and diversity visa programs. Each program has its own eligibility requirements, and it’s important to understand the criteria before applying. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that the application process goes smoothly and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Green Card

When you are researching how to obtain permanent residency, you should keep the pitfalls in mind. While obtaining a green card is an exciting prospect, it’s important to avoid common mistakes during the application process. One of the most significant mistakes that people make is failing to provide accurate and complete information on their applications. This can result in the application being rejected, which can significantly delay the process of obtaining permanent residency in the United States.

Another mistake to avoid is failing to provide all required documents with the application. Many people assume that they only need to provide a few documents, but the truth is that the application process requires a significant amount of paperwork. Working with an immigration attorney can help ensure that all necessary documents are provided, reducing the likelihood of rejection.

It’s also important to avoid missing important deadlines, such as application submission deadlines or deadlines for submitting additional documents or information. Again, working with an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that all deadlines are met and that the application process runs smoothly.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

The process of obtaining a green card can be complex, and the length of time it takes to receive one can be impacted by various factors. The processing time for a green card can be expedited for individuals who are eligible for premium processing. However, this option is only available for certain types of employment-based green cards.

It’s important to note that the wait time for obtaining a green card can be impacted by changes in government policies and procedures. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant delays in USCIS processing times due to office closures and other disruptions.

To help ensure a smooth and timely process, it’s essential to have all the necessary documents and information ready when applying for a green card. This can include proof of eligibility, such as marriage or employment documents. Also, supporting documentation such as birth certificates or police clearance certificates.

While the length of time it takes to obtain a green card can vary widely, it’s important to note something. Stay informed about the process and any updates or changes to policies and procedures. Working with an experienced immigration attorney and staying organized throughout the application process can help you. Individuals can help ensure a smoother and more efficient path to permanent residency in the U.S.

Family-Based Green Cards

One of the most common ways to obtain a Green Card is through a family member who is already a US citizen or permanent resident. Immediate relatives, such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 years of age, can qualify for a Green Card without being subject to any annual quotas. Other family members, such as siblings, married children, and adult children, may also be eligible. But, the process can take longer and is subject to annual quotas.

Documents required for a family-based green card include:

  • A copy of the petitioner’s passport or other proof that he or she is a U.S. citizen. It can also be a lawful permanent resident
  • Documentation of the petitioner’s and applicant’s familial relationship
  • Petitioner’s income exceeds poverty guidelines by 125 percent for dependents

For those outside the United States who are seeking a green card, they must either complete an adjustment of status or consular processing.

The Different Categories of Family-Based Green Cards

Family-based immigration is a common way for foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency or a green card in the United States. The process involves a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident sponsoring their qualifying family member for permanent residency in the U.S. However, there are different categories of family-based green cards, each with its own set of eligibility requirements and waiting periods.

Immediate Relative Category

The Immediate Relative (IR) category is reserved for the closest family members of U.S. citizens.

This category includes:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried children (under 21 years old) of U.S. citizens
  • Parents of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old)

There is no limit on the number of green cards that can be issued in this category, and the processing time is relatively fast compared to other categories.

Family Preference Category

The Family Preference (FP) category includes family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are not immediate relatives.

This category is divided into four subcategories:


Unmarried adult children (over 21 years old) of U.S. citizens


Spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years old) of lawful permanent residents


Unmarried adult children (over 21 years old) of lawful permanent residents


Married children of U.S. citizens


Siblings of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old)

The number of green cards issued in each subcategory is limited, and the waiting period for processing can range from several months to several years. The wait time can be longer for the F3 and F4 subcategories due to their higher demand.

Other Family-Based Categories

Apart from the Immediate Relative and Family Preference categories, there are two other family-based green card categories:

K-1 Fiancé(e) Category: 

This category allows the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to come to the U.S. on a K-1 visa and marry the U.S. citizen within 90 days of arrival. After the marriage, the K-1 visa holder can apply for a green card.

V Nonimmigrant Category: 

This category allows the spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years old) of lawful permanent residents who have been waiting for more than three years for a green card to enter the U.S. They might also live here temporarily until they receive their green cards.

Family-based immigration is a popular option for foreign nationals seeking permanent residency in the U.S. The different categories of family-based green cards offer options for immediate relatives and other family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Understanding the different categories and their eligibility requirements is crucial in determining the best course of action for a successful immigration application.

Employment-Based Green Cards

Another common pathway to a Green Card is through employment. There are several categories of employment-based Green Cards, including:


Priority workers, such as people with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers. Multinational executives or managers also fall under the same category.


Professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability.


Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers.


Special immigrants, such as religious workers, and broadcasters. Also, certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals have worked for the US government.


Investors who create new commercial enterprises that create jobs in the US.

To obtain an employment-based Green Card, the applicant must have a job offer from a US employer who is willing to sponsor them. The employer must obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) to prove that there are no qualified US workers available for the job. The employer must then file a Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) with the USCIS. Once the petition is approved, the applicant will need to apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status.

Diversity Visa Lottery

The Diversity Visa Lottery, also known as the Green Card Lottery, is a program that randomly selects up to 50,000 applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US. To be eligible, the applicant must be a citizen of a qualifying country, have a high school education or equivalent, and meet certain other requirements. The application process takes place once a year, typically in the fall, and winners are selected in the following year.

Investment-Based Green Cards

The EB-5 visa program allows foreign investors to obtain a Green Card by investing in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least ten full-time jobs in the US. To qualify, the investor must invest at least $1.8 million (or $900,000 in a targeted employment area) and show that the investment is likely to create the required number of jobs. The investor must also show that the funds were obtained through lawful means.

Other Green Card Options

There are several other green card options available for those who are eligible. One of these is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which allows foreign investors to invest in a U.S. business and receive a green card in return. To be eligible for this program, you must invest at least $900,000 in a targeted employment area or $1.8 million in a non-targeted area. You must also create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

Another option is the Diversity Visa Program. This provides 50,000 visas annually to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

To be eligible, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. You can also have two years of work experience in a qualifying occupation. You must also pass a medical examination and a background check.

The U.S. government also offers green cards to refugees and asylees. Refugees are individuals who have fled their home country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Asylees are individuals who are already in the U.S. and have applied for protection based on similar grounds.

Maintaining Your Green Card Status

Once an individual obtains a green card, it’s important to maintain their permanent residency status. This is done by complying with all U.S. immigration laws and regulations. This includes requirements such as paying taxes, and not committing any crimes. This also includes not spending extended periods of time outside the U.S. without obtaining the proper documentation.

Failure to maintain green card status can result in deportation. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the requirements and comply with them fully. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that all requirements are met. The individual will also be able to maintain their permanent residency status in the U.S. for as long as they choose to do so.

Quick Takeaway!

We hope you’re now clear on how to obtain permanent residency. Claiming a permanent residency in the U.S. can be a complex and time-consuming process. But it is well worth the effort for those who want to live and work in the country permanently. Whether you are applying for a family-based green card, an employment-based green card, or one of the other options available, it is important to work with an experienced immigration attorney. They can guide you through the process and help you avoid common mistakes.

If you are considering applying for a green card or have questions about the process, contact Yemi Getachew Immigration Law Office, P.C. Our team of dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys can provide you with the guidance and support you need to achieve your goals. We are committed to helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system and achieve their dreams of living and working in this great country.

Don’t let the challenges of the immigration process hold you back. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you obtain permanent residency in the U.S.

Available 24/7

Get Help Today

Our team of experienced immigration attorneys are ready to answer your questions.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.