Getting an immigration green card and citizenship can happen through family, a job, asylum, and through other special programs including the green card “lottery.”
A green card is neither automatic nor guaranteed. Past law violations may require a waiver (federal forgiveness).
An “immediate relative” means a U.S. citizen’s spouse, an unmarried child under 21 of a U.S. citizen, and a parent of an adult U.S. citizen over 21.
Family and Employment Preference Categories
All other applicants, whether through work or family, are known as “preference” categories, have yearly quotas, and the wait is years long. In many cases it makes sense to “get in line” for these visas, and begin the process. In some cases it does not, and may cause more immigration harm than good.
Family Preference Categories
Family preference categories are U.S. citizens’ adult unmarried children, permanent residents’ spouses and unmarried children, U.S. citizens’ adult married children, and U.S. citizens’ siblings.
Employer-Sponsored Work Categories
Employer-sponsored work categories include highly-skilled advanced degree professionals, skilled workers, less-skilled non-professionals, and religious workers. Employment categories that need no sponsorship but have difficult and exacting requirements are for “extraordinary ability” workers (international prize winners; professional athletes) and for job-creating enterprises where the minimum investment, depending upon location, is either $500,000 or $1,000,000.
At initial consultations immigration attorney Lynn S. Olinger has advised many people of the challenges and possibilities for family or work sponsorship, enabling prudent decisions without financial waste.