Immigrating to the United States used to be relatively easy compared to other countries, but things changed in 2016 when the government changed hands. Immigration policies in the US have become stricter, and the overall process of gaining permanent residence officially in the country has become harder than it used to be. Right now, you don’t want to be caught roaming about the streets of any city in the US without legal immigrant papers, as law enforcement and security officials have been empowered to deal ruthlessly with such people. You don’t, however, need to be afraid of immigrating to the US, as there is a way to gain permanent resident status in the country; through legal means.
As is obtainable everywhere there is a law, the only way to peacefully live in the United States permanently as an immigrant is by going through the process obtained by the laws of the land. The first and most important weapon you need in your arsenal in this process is an IMMIGRANT VISA. This is also known as a “green card”.
There are several ways of acquiring a US immigrant visa. These include:
- via Family Ties.
- via Potential Employment.
- via Investment.
- via other special categories defined in US laws.
These are all legal means of acquiring permanent residency in the United States and you’ll see how you can gain your immigrant visa through them below, but first, you must keep this fact in mind: there is a limited number of visas that can be gotten annually in each category, and there are limits applied to some countries under US laws.
This shouldn’t, however, discourage you from taking that bold step in applying for your immigrant visa. If the limit is reached before your application is approved, you’ll be added to a waitlist, and your application would be processed once there is an available slot.
That said, let’s look at how you can go about applying for your green card under the various categories.
US IMMIGRANT VISA BY FAMILY TIES
Under this category, you’re not the one to submit the application for the immigrant visa to the authorities; a qualified individual to which you have certain family ties has to do the application for you. There are two types of qualified individuals who can submit an application on your behalf: a US citizen, or an immigrant who has gained his immigrant visa (green card), and subsequently, permanent residence through these same methods described here.
A US citizen can submit an application for his/her spouse, son, daughter, parent, brother, or sister. On the other hand, an immigrant who is a permanent resident in the US can apply for an immigrant visa on behalf of his/her spouse or single (unmarried) son or daughter.
If you know anyone to whom you are related in the ways described above and is qualified as stated above, they can help you get your immigrant visa by submitting an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative to the office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
US IMMIGRANT VISA BY POTENTIAL EMPLOYMENT
This category is meant for skilled workers who are seeking permanent employment in the United States. You would usually go through this process if you’ve successfully gone through the recruitment process of an organization in the US, and have been offered a position in the organization, in which case immigration is the only barrier for you to get started on the job.
Your potential employers can help you get your green card by submitting an I-140 Petition for Alien Worker to the office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services — the USCIS.
There are some special cases in which a potential employee can apply for an immigrant visa directly. If you fall into this category, you submit the I-140 Petition to the USCIS directly, instead of going through your employers.
US IMMIGRANT VISA BY INVESTMENT
This is the US Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the EB-5 visa. It simply means you can get your US green card by investing an amount of between $500,000 and $1M in a US-based business that can employ at least 10 workers.
SPECIAL US IMMIGRANT VISA PROGRAMS
There are some special immigrant visa programs established under the laws of the United States, to which the application flow for the other categories above do not apply. These include former US government employees from other countries, Iraqi/Afghan Translators and Interpreters, Iraqis and Afghans who were employed by/on behalf of the US government, Religious Workers, and citizens from countries with low rates of immigration to the US (under the annual US diversity immigration program).