Before an immigrant to the United States can seek American citizenship, he or she has to obtain a green card. This allows someone to live in the U.S. permanently and work legally.
There is an application process involved in obtaining a green card. There are different routes to obtaining legal permanent residence in the United States. The Miami Herald describes a few of them.
1. Employment-based immigration
A person who obtains a job in the United States may be able to obtain a green card. In this case, one’s employer typically serves as one’s sponsor. There are different preferences given to foreign citizens on the basis of their work-related skills.
2. Family-based immigration
A person with a spouse or other close family member who is a citizen of the United States may be able to obtain a green card more quickly and easily. However, it is not automatic for spouses of U.S. citizens. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will conduct an evaluation of the legitimacy of the marriage.
Relatives of lawful permanent residents of the United States may receive some preference when it comes to obtaining green cards, but less than family members of citizens.
3. Asylum or refuge
People who have reason to fear violence in their home countries can apply for a green card as a refugee or an asylum-seeker. They must first be present in the United States for at least a year.
4. Diversity visa program
The diversity visa program is one in which the State Department chooses randomly from a selection of applicants for a few to receive visas. There are limited spots available, so it is important to meet all application deadlines and to fill out the paperwork correctly. After selection, there is a process of confirming one’s qualifications and interviewing at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.