Foreign nationals may legally enter the United States through non-immigrant visas for business and/or pleasure. Foreign nationals may also enter the U.S as immigrants with Green Cards (Permanent Residents).

An individual may be granted Lawful Permanent Residence by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through one of the following ways: Family, Employment, Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card lottery), Qualified Investment, Special Family Situations (VAWA), Victim of crime (U visa) and Refugee or Asylum.



Family Based Immigration

The most common way of obtaining a Green Card in the United States is through family sponsorship. U.S. Immigration law allows all U.S. citizens to petition for certain qualified relatives to come live and work permanently in the United States.

Immediate relatives

Immediate relatives have special immigration priority because a visa number is immediately available for them. Immediate relatives do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular visa categories. Immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21
  • Parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)



    Family Preference Category

    If the family member of the U.S. citizen is not an immediate relative, then the U.S. citizen may still be able to sponsor them via what is called a “family preference category.” Due to the limited number of visas available for qualifying relatives under the family preference category each year, there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.
    Eligible relatives include:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
  • Married children of any age
  • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)

    Permanent residents


    U.S. Permanent residents (Green Cards holders) may also petition for their eligible relatives to immigrate to the United States. Unlike American citizens, Permanent residents may only petition for their spouse and unmarried children of any age to immigrate to the United States.

    Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is generally a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available. Relatives of Permanent Residents who qualify as eligible relative of a U.S.

    Permanent resident fall under the “family preference category” with a limited number of available visas.


    Employment Based Immigration


    A foreign national who has a permanent employment opportunity in the United States may be eligible for Permanent Residence status through employment sponsorship. This is usually a multi-step process, which requires participation of both the employer and the foreign national. Although the process of obtaining permanent resident status through employment sponsorship is complex and time consuming. Our immigration attorneys will guide you through the immigration processes to simply the burdensome process assist with the documentation requirements necessary to obtain the appropriate visa.

    If the foreign worker resides outside the U.S., the U.S. employer must complete a Labor Certification request for the foreign worker and submit to the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Once the labor certificate request has been approved, the employer must submit the appropriate immigration petition for alien worker on behalf of the foreign national.

    If this petition is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), USCIS then works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved petition when a visa is available.

    If the foreign worker already resides in the U.S., he/she may adjust status to become a permanent resident once the immigrant petition for alien worker is approved and a visa number is available for that foreign worker. In order to adjust status, foreign worker must complete Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, to become a permanent resident (Green Card Holder).


    Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program)


    The U.S. Department of State (DOS) oversees the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program). Every year, the DV Program makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV Program also known as the “visa lottery” is drawn randomly among all entries submitted for that year. Winners of the DV Program’s random selection immigrate through consular processing.

    Investment based Green Card


    The purpose of the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5 Investor” is to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Qualified foreign individuals who make the requisite $1,000,000, investment or at least $500,000 investment in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural area), in a new commercial enterprise in the United States are eligible to apply for a green card for themselves, their spouses and unmarried children under 21. The EB-5 Investor must also demonstrate that his or her new venture will create at least 10 full time jobs for American citizens or those authorized to work in the United States.


    Asylum and Refugee


    Refugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted based on their race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. These individuals come to the U.S. for safe harbor.




    Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who are outside of the United States and are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. These individuals must demonstrate they have been persecuted or show fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. To be considered for Refugee status, one must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). If refugee status has been granted, you are required by law to apply for a green card (permanent residence) in the United States 1 year after being admitted as a refugee based on fulfillment of certain requirements.



    Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who meet the definition of refugee, are already in the United States, and currently seeking admission at a port of entry. To qualify for asylum, an individual must request for asylum within the first year in the United States. Once asylum is granted, you may apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum. Unlike Refugee status, those granted asylum are not required to apply for a green card; however, it may be in your best interest to do so. You may no longer qualify for asylum status with the right to remain permanently in the United States if country conditions change in your home country or you no longer meet the definition of an asylee due to changed circumstances.

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    Atlanta GA 30349.

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