Green Card Program


What is a green card?


A green card allows non-U.S. citizens to obtain a permanent residency in the United States. A lot of people outside the United States want to get a green card because it will allow them to live and work (legally) anywhere in the United States and also qualify for a U.S. citizenship after three or five years.

Each year, the U.S. government issues more than a million green card. Most are given to family members of U.S. citizens and current green card holders, followed by workers from other countires looking for work in the United States who are considered the next group of major receipients.

However, there are several other types of green cards. This website provides a basic overview of the most common types of green card and who can apply to get them.


Family-based Green Card

Close relatives of U.S. citizens and current green card holders can apply for their own family green card. Eligible family members include spouses, children, parents, and siblings (as well as spouses and children of those spouses, and adult children and siblings)

This category also includes widows and widowers, and widows and widowers who were married to a U.S. citizen at the time of the citizen’s death. And spouses of U.S. citizens residing in the U.S. and current green card holders who apply for marriage-based green card. Widows and widowers must prove that their marriage is genuine in order to obtain the green card.

More extended family members -Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents- are not eligible for application. They may only apply for a green card if they, too, had a close relative who is either a U.S. citizen or a current green card holder (or eligible for one of the other types of green cards listed below).



Humanitarian cards



students cards



Family cards



Request green cards

Employment-based Green Cards


People who fear or have suffered persecution in their country of origin – due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group- can request protection in the United States by applying for a visa from abroad (to come as a refugee) or from within The United States (to stay as a refugee).


Human trafficking victims who live in the United States – either lawfully or unlawfully (in other words “undocumented”) – may apply for a T visa to stay in the United States for up to four years. However, they should help investigate and prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking unless the victim is under 18 years old.


Victims of physical abuse living in the United States – whether lawfully or unlawfully – can request protection by applying for a U visa. The victim’s application must be certified by a law enforcement agency. The victim must agree to assist in the investigation of people who have committed kidnapping and other offenses like sexual assault and torture.


Victims of domestic violence may apply for a green card that allows them to seek relief through the Violence Against Women Act. This law applies to both women and men, parents and children. The victim of assault may apply for a green card on his / her own initiative – without the knowledge or permission of the abusive relative.


Long-time resident Green Card

Individuals who have physically lived in the United States -legally or illegally (meaning “undocumented”)- since January 1st, 1972 can apply for a green card through a special process called “registry”.

To qualify for a green card through registry, the individual must meet all of the following criteria:

  • They entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972, which they would need to prove by providing an I-94 travel record (officially called the “I-94 Arrival/Departure Record”).
  • They have not left the United States since the date of their arrival.
  • They have a “good moral character”, meaning that they have not committed certain types of crimes such as fraud, prostitution, or murder.
  • Are eligible for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
  • They have not committed crimes that would render them “subject to deportation.” Examples of such violations include drug abuse, smuggling, and marriage fraud (marrying a U.S. citizen or green card holder to obtain a marriage-based green card).
  • They have not commited crimes that would render them “inadmissible”, (which means they cannot obtain a green card). Examples of such violations include entering the United States illegally and staying more than six months in the United States with an expired visa.

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