The United States’ immigration laws are one of the most complicated areas of law and a confusing system for many people. The immigration laws have witnessed perpetual fluctuations, with continuous changes shaping the nation’s approach to immigration. These ongoing changes reflect the complex nature of immigration and the nation’s continuous efforts to balance political priorities, national security, economic interests, and humanitarian concerns in shaping its immigration system. 

  • Immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to live permanently in the United States. 
  • Nonimmigrant visas are for foreign nationals wishing to enter the United States on a temporary basis – for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, study, or other reasons.
immigration to the usa

Individuals with extraordinary abilities

Individuals with extraordinary abilities in specific fields may be eligible to apply for a green card in the United States through the employment-based EB-1A category. This category is designed for individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Many people first obtain an O-1 visa or status in the United States, as the standard is generally lower for O-1, as compared to EB-1A. 

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U.S. Talent Visas

E-2 Visas for entrepreneurs and investors

The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category that allows foreign entrepreneurs and investors to live and work in the U.S. It provides an opportunity for individuals to invest in and manage their businesses in the U.S.

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E-2 Visas for entrepreneurs and investors

Family-Based Green Card

If you have an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen (spouse, parent, or child who is at least 21 years or older), they can sponsor you for a green card. The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Processing is done somewhat expeditiously and usually takes around a year or so. 

Some other family members can also get immigrant visas based on their specific family relationships with a U.S. citizen, or with a lawful permanent resident. The number of immigrants in these categories is limited each fiscal year. They typically face longer waiting periods.

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Family members of Permanent Residents (Green Card holders)

Green Card for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizen

Asylum Status

If you have fled your home country due to persecution or fear of persecution, you can apply for asylum in the United States. Please note that to seek asylum, you must be physically present in the United States, or to be at a U.S. port of entry. If asylee status is granted, you may be eligible to apply for a green card after meeting certain requirements.

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Seeking Asylum in the United States

Religious Worker

One can seek a green card as a religious worker in the United States. Some religious workers first obtain a religious visa R-1. They obtain a job offer from a religious organization in the United States that meets the qualifications for an R-1 visa sponsor.

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Visas / Green cards for Religious Workers

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

This category is for minors who have been, for example, abandoned by one or both parents. If granted SIJS, they may be eligible to apply for a green card.

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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

Human trafficking and crime victims

Human trafficking and crime victims who have been granted special immigrant status may be eligible to apply for a green card. 

Other Special Categories

There are additional pathways for obtaining a green card, such as through investment, or the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and more. These categories have their own unique requirements.

It’s important to note that the application process for many types of visas, as well as for green card, can be complex and time-consuming. The process and requirements can vary depending on the specific category and individual circumstances. 

It is recommended to seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney to choose the most suitable option for you, and to obtain information about the criteria and any changes in immigration policies or regulations.

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