4 Ways To Get A Green Card On Your Own
In this guide, we will discuss four ways that you can self-petition to get a green card. That means that you can apply for your green card on your own without the need for an employer or a family member to sponsor you. These four ways are (1) the EB1A visa, (2) the EB2 national interest waiver, (3) the EB5 investor visa, and (4) the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In this article, we are going to cover all four for you.
We are Ashoori Law, led by attorney Michael Ashoori, a U.S. immigration lawyer based in Los Angeles, California. At our law firm we work with clients from all over the world, and we regularly post articles and videos to make sure that you are up to date with the latest immigration news and tips. If, after reading this article, you have more questions about visa and green card options, then we invite you to call us at +1-818-741-1117 or you may request a free consultation by clicking this link.
1. The EB1A Visa
For those individuals that have extraordinary ability in a particular field, they may be eligible to apply for an EB1A visa. The EB1A visa is the employment-based, first preference, immigrant classification. It is designed to allow those at the top of their fields of expertise to benefit the economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States. The attractive features of an EB1A visa include (i) that a candidate does not need sponsorship from an employer to apply, (ii) the candidate does not need a job offer or labor certification to apply, and (iii) the EB1A classification is an immigrant classification which means that it may result in a green card – permanent residency in the U.S.
To qualify for an EB1A, you must prove “extraordinary ability” in a particular field such as the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. You can demonstrate extraordinary ability by providing extensive documentary evidence of sustained national or international acclaim. One way to show such acclaim is evidence that you have received a major, internationally known award such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award, or Olympic Medal. If you do not have such an award, you can still be eligible for EB1A classification by meeting 3 of the following 10 criteria:
- Receiving a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence.
- Membership in associations in your field that require outstanding achievement of their members.
- Having professional or major trade publications or other major media publish material about you.
- Being asked to judge the work of others, either individual or on a panel.
- Having original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in your field.
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
- Having your work displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
- Performing a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
- Commanding a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
- Having commercial successes in the performing arts.
2. The EB2 National Interest Waiver
Another self-petitioning green card option is the EB2 National Interest Waiver (NIW). The EB2 NIW is for someone that will be coming to the United States to work in a field that is in the national interest. Foreign nationals seeking a “national interest waiver” fall under the EB2 classification. A foreign individual seeking a national interest waiver (NIW) is essentially asking that USCIS waive the following requirements: 1) that the NIW applicant have a job offer from an employer; and 2) that the employer get an approved labor certification. These two requirements are typically required of certain other employment-based classifications such as EB2 and EB3.
The basis for why the national interest waiver exists is because it is in the best interest of the U.S. for the job offer and labor certificate requirements to be waived. NIWs are typically granted to those who have exceptional ability and whose employment in the U.S. would greatly benefit the nation. Unlike EB2s based on advanced degree or exceptional ability, individuals seeking a NIW do not need a U.S. employer/sponsor, but rather can petition for the EB2 visa on their own behalf.
In addition to other requirements, someone seeking an NIW should should be prepared to satisfy at least three of the following criteria:
- Official academic record showing that the beneficiary has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;
- Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in the relevant occupation;
- A license to practice a relevant profession or certification of the profession or occupation;
- Evidence that the beneficiary commands a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrate exceptional ability;
- Membership in a professional association(s);
- Recognition of the beneficiary’s achievements and significant contributions to the relevant field by the beneficiary’s peers, government entities, and professional or business organizations.
3. EB5 Investor Visa
The EB-5 investor visa option is for investors and entrepreneurs who make a major investment in a U.S. company. Essentially, the basis for the EB5 green card option is to encourage foreign investors to invest in U.S. companies and create U.S. jobs. To obtain an EB5 visa, you do not need a sponsor. You can self-petition for an EB5 visa.
With regard to requirements for the EB5 classification, a person must invest $1.8 million and must have their investment lead to the creation of 10 full time jobs for U.S. workers. The investment amount can be $900,000 (rather than $1.8 million) if the individual plans to invest in a company located in an area that is classified as a Targeted Employment Area (an area either experiencing high unemployment or a rural area).
Under the EB5 green card option, an investor can choose to invest in their own business or they may invest in an existing business provided certain requirements are met. Investors also have the option to invest in a regional center project, which is usually a large-scale development of some kind, such as a hotel or sports arena.
4. Green Card Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a special law for victims who suffered abuse at the hands of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. VAWA is available for both men and women. Specifically, under VAWA, a person could potentially be eligible to apply for their green card if they was a victim of abuse committed by:
- A U.S. citizen, or lawful permanent resident, spouse or former spouse;
- A U.S. citizen, or lawful permanent resident, parent;
- A U.S. citizen son or daughter;
The type of abuse can be either physical abuse or extreme cruelty.
A person who files a VAWA self-petition is generally known as a VAWA self-petitioner. A VAWA self-petitioner is afforded certain special confidentiality protections, and the law prohibits USCIS from denying an application based on information provided solely by the petitioner’s abuser.
Through VAWA, the applicant can apply for their green card on their own rather than having to rely on the abusive family member.
It often can become difficult to obtain a green card when you have to rely on the goodwill and time-intensive work of an employer or other sponsor. Fortunately, as we’ve discussed, there are multiple ways in which someone can petition on their own for a green card.
My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States. If you have any questions, feel free to request a free consultation by clicking this link.
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Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.