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What are the different ways to get a green card?

Acquiring a green card is a long-term goal for many immigrants. A green card allows its holder the right to permanently live and work in South Carolina or anywhere else in the United States, even if that person is not yet a citizen. While many people want green cards, not everyone can get one. There are specific criteria on who can and cannot acquire a green card. The most common routes to a green card are through family and work. However, those aren't the only paths.

Individuals who have family members who are citizens or green card holders may be able to get a green card, depending on the specific relationship. Immediate family members of citizens qualify. An immediate family member is defined as a spouse, an unmarried child under 21 and parents of those over 21. Other qualified family members include unmarried adult children, married children and brothers and sisters. Spouses and unmarried children of green card holders are also qualified.

Green cards can also be obtained through work. An individual may be qualified if he or she has a permanent job offer in the United States and if the employer has a labor certification and has filed a Form I-140. An immigrant can also get a green card if he or she has made an investment in a business that will create jobs in the United States. Other circumstances could include an immigrant who has "extraordinary ability" or meets certain criteria for specific occupational waivers.

There are a number of other situations that could qualify one for a green card. If the immigrant was admitted as a refugee, he or she may qualify. Also, children who were born in the United States to a foreign diplomat can qualify. An immigration lawyer can advise clients as to whether they meet the criteria for obtaining a green card.

Source: US CIS, "Green Card", December 22, 2014

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