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Permanent Visas

The US grants permanent residency to applicants qualified and eligible in the Family, Employment, Investment or Other Categories whether the applicant is in or outside the United States.

Originally posted on February 26, 2015; updated December 1, 2015

Permanent Visas

Green Card through Family: Quota and Non-Quota

Non-Quota.  Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older

Fiancé/Fiancees of US citizens eligible for K-1 visa or status are technically under the Nonimmigrant or Temporary visa categories. However, because of the mandated period to apply for permanent residency after grant of such status or admission into the U.S. K-1 applicants are virtually classified in the immigrant, family-based categories.  A Fiancé/Fiancee must marry the U.S. citizen within 90-days of being admitted in K-1 status and apply for lawful residency as the spouse of a U.S. citizen – a Non-Quota Family class category.

Quota or Preference Categories

F1 – Over 21 unmarried son/daughter of a U.S. citizen;
F2A – Spouse, minor, unmarried children of lawful permanent residents (also called green card holders);
F2B – Over 21 unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents;
F3 – Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens regardless of age.
F4 – Brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens.

Green Card Through Special Categories of Family - Battered Spouse or Child (VAWA); K Nonimmigrant (includes fiancé(e)); Person Born to a Foreign Diplomat in the United States; V Nonimmigrant; Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen.

Green Card Based on Job Offer Employment-based Migration for Professionals and Skilled Workers in or outside the Philippines. The petition requires a Permanent Labor Certification  before filing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The date of filing is the priority date.  An applicant may apply for the visa outside the US, or apply for adjustment of status if in the U.S. Check the Visa Bulletin to find out the processing times for the immigrant visa petitions (Family or Employment).

Certain individuals either in or outside the U.S. may be eligible for permanent residency based on a job offer. The employer, however, must first obtain a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor that there are no available, eligible workers in the US.  The most common categories are the EB3 for professionals and skilled workers; OW for Semi or Unskilled Workers. 

Other categories are for Afghan/Iraqi Translators; Broadcasters; International Organization Employees; Iraqis Who Assisted the U.S. Government; NATO-6 Nonimmigrants; Panama Canal Employees; Physicians-National Interest Waiver and Religious Workers.

Investment-oriented Green Cards:  Permanent residency is also available to investors/entrepreneurs who are making an investment (ranging from $500,000 to $1 million) in an enterprise that creates new U.S. jobs. The amount of investment dictates where the capital/funds should be invested.

Green Card through Self Petition based on Occupation or Profession: Individuals who are considered to be on top of their area of practice or profession may apply for permanent residency.  The categories include the EB1 which has three sub-groups:  (1) Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; (2) Multinational managers or executives who have worked as such in the US for at least a year; and (3) Outstanding Professors and Researchers.

The next employment-based category eligible for self-petition are individuals with Master’s Degree or higher who are eligible for residency even without a labor certification or job.

Other Ways to Get a Green Card – For those already in the U.S. they may apply for permanent residency after being in the U.S. continuously in unlawful status for 10 years. The application is coursed through the Immigration Courts through a request to cancel an order of removal or deportation.


Immigrant Visa Categories, Complete list.

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