Green card is the term used to describe a document that gives a person born in another country the right to live and work in the United States. A green card is usually issued to those people who are permanent resident aliens and who wish to eventually become a United States citizen. Once a person has held a green card for almost five years with no legal problems, they are eligible to apply for citizenship or naturalization.
There are two main ways to be deemed eligible for a green card. The first way is through your employment in the United States. In this case, the employer of the foreign individual must agree to sponsor that individual. Once sponsored the individual may make application for a green card. This application is usually a much faster process for those individuals with more education or specialized job skills. Those individuals that have common job skills or less education may have to wait for a longer period of time before their application is reviewed and accepted.
The second way that an individual may become eligible for a green card is through their immediate family. In this case, if a foreign individual has a family member such as a child, parent or sibling that is an American citizen, then they may apply for a green card. If a parent of a foreign minor child is an American citizen then that child is automatically and immediately eligible for a visa.
Another way that a foreign person can qualify for a green card is through marriage to an American citizen, however, the American citizen must reside in the United States. Once the person has obtained their green card they can apply for permanent residency but the laws controlling this process are very stiff. In this case, the married parties must prove that their relationship is legitimate.
In addition to the above options for obtaining a green card, there are special circumstances that allow certain individuals who do not meet the above criteria to obtain a green card in a timely manner. These special circumstances include the following:
Although special circumstances do exist, the normal application process for and the granting of a green card usually take many months and is a very complicated and exhaustive system. If you are contemplating applying for a green card, it is advisable to speak with an attorney before hand.