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Becoming a Permanent Resident in the U.S.

A permanent resident has a Permanent Resident Card, also known as a “green card,” giving that person the right to remain permanently in the United States.  Normally, people apply for U.S. permanent residence through their family relationships or their employment situation.  The permanent residence application application, which can sometimes take many years, may be processed while the foreign national is inside or outside of the United States.  With some exceptions, to remain in the United States for the duration of a permanent residence case, the person must have a valid temporary visa. A permanent resident can lose the status, if convicted of a crime, or if he or she “abandons” the U.S. by no longer living there most of the time.

Obtaining permanent residence through a family relationship

To immigrate based on a family relationship, one must be sponsored by a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or by a grown child, sibling or fiance who is a U.S. citizen. Depending on the nature of the relationship and the country the immigrant is coming from, the length of the application period can vary widely. For example, the spouse of a U.S. citizen may require only a few months to obtain a “green card,” while the sibling of a U.S. citizen might require a decade or more.

Since the approval process can take a long time, with very few exceptions, the applicant residing in the United States during the process must have an independent basis to be here, some type of temporary visa.

Obtaining U.S. permanent residence through employment

All types of organizations, whether governmental, private, educational, for-profit or non-profit, can sponsor their employees for U.S. permanent residence.  In some instances employees can sponsor themselves, without relying on an employer.  There are a number of employment-based categories through which to apply for U.S. permanent residence, described in full on USCIS’ website. Our immigration attorneys can assist you to apply through the appropriate employment-based category with the greatest chance of success:

  • EB-1: this category includes: (1) persons with “extraordinary ability” in the arts, sciences, business or athletics, (2) “outstanding professors or researchers,” or (3) multinational executives or managers
  • EB-2: this category includes: (1) advanced-degreed professionals, or (2) persons with “exceptional ability” in their respective fields
  • EB-3: this category includes: (1) skilled workers, (2) unskilled workers, or (3) professionals
  • EB-4: this category includes “special immigrants,” such as International Organization (G-4) employees and their families, and religious workers, among others
  • EB-5: this category is for foreign “entrepreneurs” who want to invest between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in the United States to create U.S. employment. We are affiliated with an expert EB-5 attorney, who would be happy to discuss your situation with you.  The specifics of EB-5 application requirements are detailed on the USCIS website.

Contact an experienced legal team in Washington D.C. for help with immigration issues

Contact one of the immigration attorneys at our Morris H. Deutsch, Immigration Attorney, based in Washington D.C., to find out how to become a permanent resident, so that you may live and work permanently in the United States.  We can assist you.  Call 202-728-0820 or use our online inquiry form.


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