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Home »» Knowledgebase»» Immigration

Permanent Residency & The Green Card

by: Maury D. Beaulier

Permanent Residency. Permanent residency is often referred to as having a Green Card. There are two primary categories of immigration: Immigrant status and Non-immigrant status. Immigrant status allows permanent residency in the United States. Non-immigrant status provides an authorization to aliens for temporary residency that expires upon the occurrence of a specific event.

A Permanent Resident is commonly referred to as a "Green Card" holder. Permanent residents have many rights which include the following:

  • The right to live in the United States permanently;
  • The right to reenter the United States after traveling out of the country abroad;
  • The right to apply for U.S. Citizenship after continuously living as a Permanent Resident in the United States for five (5) years
  • The right to employment in any work that is legal

There are four main categories for green card permanent residency and even more subcategories under each main category. The main green card categories include Family Sponsored Immigration, Employment Immigration, DV Lottery, and Asylum and Refugee status.

Family Sponsored Immigration Green Card. Foreign family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents may qualify for an immigrant visa. However, the United States sets strict limitations on the number of immigrant visas allowed each year. The closer the relative is the higher that person falls on the priority scale for obtaining an immigrant visa. Immediate family members of U.S. citizens are given the highest priority. Foreign parents, children under the age of 18, and spouses fall outside of the quota system and usually qualify quickly for an immigrant visa. Extended family members of United States citizens and family members of permanent residents may also qualify. However, the waiting period may be much longer. In some cases, the wait for a visa may exceed 10 years. The priority list for family sponsored immigration is as follows: (1) F-1 - Unmarried Sons or Daughters of U.S. Citizens over the age of 21; (2) F2-A -Spouses and unmarried Children of Permanent Residents under the age of 21; (3) F2-B -Unmarried Sons or Daughters of Permanent Residents over the age of 21; (4) F-3 -Married Sons or Daughters of U.S. Citizens over the age of 21; (5) F-4 - Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens.

The relationship is only one criteria in determining preference. A second criteria includes the country of the relative's origin. Economically poor countries such as China and India tend to have the longest waiting periods.

Employment Immigration Green Card. Aliens seeking permanent residency in the United States for employment purposes must fit into one of five categories. The first category is "Priority Workers" which includes Intra-Company Transferees of Managers and Executives, Outstanding Professors and Researchers and Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business and Athletics. The second employment category is "Aliens of Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business" which includes Professionals with advanced degrees. The third category includes "Professionals with Bachelors Degrees not qualifying in the 2nd Preference, skilled workers, and unskilled workers in special needs professions. The fourth category is very narrow encompassing "Religious Workers" who are here to carrying out their religious mission. Finally, the last category is based on economic development and includes individuals who invest one million dollars ($1,000,000.00)in a new "commercial enterprise" or in a "troubled business" or those who invest Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00) in a "new commercial enterprise" or "troubled business" in a "targeted employment area."

DV Lottery Green Card. 55,000 immigrant visas each year are available to those winning a Visa Lottery. The number of lottery visas are apportioned to countries that have fewer visa applicants. To apply, an immigrant must fill out a number of forms detailing their background with the INS. Each year lottery contestants are drawn and notified if they have won. A winning alien may make application for an immigrant visa.

Refugee/Asylum Status. Refugee and Asylum status allows foreigners fearing persecution to seek refugee status in this country. Foreigners outside of the United States may seek refugee status. Foreigners already in the United States may seek asylum to prevent deportation. After approval of Refugee or asylum status, the alien is allowed to enter or remain in the United States and may seek an adjustment of their status to one of permanent residency after one year.

About The Author
Maury D. Beaulier is part of a 29 attorney immigration law firm handling cases for clients across the United States and abroad. The firm and its members are recognized leaders in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization process including asylum cases, work visas, investor visas and family based immigration. You may reach Mr. Beaulier at (952) 746-2153 or thorugh his immigration website located at

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