How to Get a Green Card

How to Get a Green Card


As a U.S. immigration lawyer, my clients often ask me how they can get a green card. The answer is that there are many possible ways to get a green card. The best option for you will depend on your particular circumstances.


In this guide, I will explain most of the ways that you can get a green card to the U.S. If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at I’m very responsive via email and I would be happy to help you.




  1. What is a Green Card?


  1. Fiancé and Marriage Based Visas


a. K1 Fiancé Visa


b. Marriage Based Green Card


  1. Employment-Based Green Card Options


a. EB1 Visa


b. EB2 Visa and EB3 Visa


c. EB4 Visa


d. EB5 Visa


  1. Diversity Lottery


  1. Asylum


  1. U Visa and T Visa


  1. VAWA


  1. Conclusion



1. What is a Green Card Exactly?


“Green Card” is the informal description given to describe “permanent resident status.” If you have a Green Card, you do not need to have a visa to enter the United States. As a Green Card holder, you are eligible to live and work anywhere in the United States. Additionally, after meeting certain residency and character requirements, after three or five years (depending on the basis of your Green Card) you can apply to become a US citizen.


Again, I am happy to say that fortunately, there is are many ways to get a Green Card (Permanent Residency) in the United States. Green Cards can be obtained through:


  • (1) Family Based,
  • (2) Employment Based/Investment Based: EB-5,
  • (3) Diversity Lottery,
  • (4) Asylum,
  • (5) or even some options you may not have considered yet, such as VAWA, U, or T Visas.


Thus, keep in mind that there is no “catch all” category to get a US Green Card.


The processing times for these options, can range from a few months to beyond a decade. Thus, it is important that you explore all your options, as you may be eligible for Permanent Residency more than one way.


2. Fiancé & Marriage Based Visas


The current immigration laws are set up to prioritize family reunification for ‘immediate family.’ Therefore, one of the fastest ways to get a Green Card is by falling under the statutory description of immediate family members. For example, this would include marriage to a U.S. citizen or by being petitioned by your adult (21 years or older, U.S. citizen child). Keep in mind that both Green Card holders and citizens have the option to petition immediate relatives. Thus, pending on your status, you may be able to petition your fiancé(e), parents, adult children, and siblings as well.


a. K-1/Fiancé(e) Visa


To be eligible for a K-1 visa, you and your fiancé(e) must intend to get married within 90 days of your partner entering the United States. The marriage must be a bona fide relationship, meaning that you must be able to show that the marriage is genuine (“bona fide”) and was not entered into solely for immigration benefits. Upon marrying, your foreign national spouse can apply for a Green Card by submitting I-485, Adjustment of Status application.


If you are already married or if your fiancé(e) is already inside of the United States, then they are not eligible for a K-1 Visa, unless they exit the United States. Please see our guide on how to get a fiancé visa, to learn more.


b. Marriage Based Green Card


Often times, spouses of US Citizens are able to apply for a Green Card inside the United States, immediately upon marrying. In order to obtain a Green Card through marriage, you must prove:


  • A “bona fide” (genuine) marriage (both spouses must be single, meaning if they were previously married, they must have finalized their divorces);


  • Again, a bona fide marriage is one that was entered into for love and not solely for immigration benefits;


  • The foreign spouse must have entered the US lawfully (we will need to show evidence of having entered with inspection: valid I-94, visa);



Along with this, the petitioning spouse will need to file an affidavit of support (I-864) and the beneficiary will need to get a medical examination from a USCIS civil surgeon (I-693).


Fortunately, there is no wait for an available visa number for spouses of US Citizens. Thus, often times, the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative application can be submitted jointly with the I-485, Adjustment of Status Application. The concurrent filing is not available for all family members who benefit from the I-130 process (such as children of US Citizens over the age of 21 or siblings). After submitting the joint I-130/I-485 application, the couple can expect an interview at their local field office within approximately 10-14 months. Please see our guide on how to get a green card through marriage to learn more.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

3.   Employment Based Green Card


Unlike family-based petitions, employment based Green Cards are typically sponsored by the foreign national’s job, not a family member. The visa bulletin breaks down the employment-based green card options into 5 separate categories: EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, and EB5.



EB1 Visa


The EB1 Visa is reserved for what is known as ‘Priority Workers.’ These are reserved for leaders in their field (also known as those with ‘extraordinary ability’), executive/managers, and outstanding researchers. Additionally, the EB1 Visa is broken into 3 separate sub-categories: EB1A, EB1B, and EB1C.


EB1A Visa


The EB1A visa is reserved for people with an extraordinary ability. In order to qualify for an EB1A visa, you must show that you have an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, athletics, or education. Additionally, you must show that you are one of the few people who has risen to the very top of your field.

One of the main benefits of an EB1A green card is that this option is eligible for self-petition. This means that you can file your green card application yourself without requiring that a company sponsor you. Please see our guide on the EB1A visa to learn more.


EB1B Visa


The EB1B visa is for outstanding professors or researchers. To qualify for a green card through the EB1B visa, you must show that you are internationally recognized as “outstanding” in a specific academic area. Additionally, you must show that you have at least 3 years of experience in teaching and/or research in your academic field. You must also show that you will be working as a professor or researcher for a U.S. university of institute of higher education, or that you will work as a researcher for a private employer. Please see our guide on the EB1B visa to learn more.


EB1C Visa


The EB1C visa is for multinational managers and executives. Through the EB1C visa, a foreign company can transfer a manager or executive to a related U.S. company. To qualify, the U.S. company must have been doing business for at least 1 year at the time the EB1C application is filed. Also, it is highly important that the person applying for an EB1C visa can show that their job duties for the foreign company were managerial or executive in nature, and that their job duties for the U.S. company will be managerial or executive in nature. Please see our guide on the EB1C visa to learn more.



EB2 Visa EB3 Visa


The EB2 visa and EB3 visa are most commonly known as the employer sponsored green card options. These categories are predominantly reserved for those with at least a bachelor’s degree and/or specialized knowledge. To qualify for an EB2 visa or EB3 visa, you typically must show that you have a full-time job offer to work for a U.S. company. The U.S. company must have an approved Labor Certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor. To get an approved Labor Certificate, the U.S. company must show that they tried to hire a U.S. worker and were unable to find a qualified U.S. worker for the position they wish to hire you for – this is also known as the PERM Labor Certification process. Please see our guide on how to get an employer sponsored green card to learn more.


EB2 National Interest Waiver


Under the EB2 category, there is a unique petition known as the “National Interest Waiver,” which does not require a PERM Labor Certificate (unlike the other petitions in this category and EB-3). Here, one with outstanding qualifications and a purpose to promote the “national interest,” can potentially qualify for a US Green Card through self-petition. This means that you can apply for a green card yourself, without the need for an employer to act as your sponsor.


EB4 Visa


The EB4 visa category is reserved for ‘special immigrants,’ which are the following:


  • Religious Workers
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles
  • Broadcasters
  • G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees and Their Family Members
  • International Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad
  • Armed Forces Members
  • Panama Canal Zone Employees
  • Certain Physicians
  • Afghan and Iraqi Translators
  • Afghan and Iraqi Nationals Who Have Provided Faith Service in Support of U.S. Operations


EB5 Visa


The EB5 visa is a special green card option which allows someone to get a green card based on making an investment in a U.S. business. The EB5 visa is popularly known as the ‘investment based Green Card.’ Some people also call the EB5 visa the ‘Job Creation Visa.’ To qualify for an EB5 visa you must invest at least $800,000 or $1,050,000 dollars into a U.S. enterprise. To qualify for the reduced investment of $800,000 you must invest in an economically depressed area called a Targeted Employment Area (or TEA). In addition, you must show that your investment will lead to the creation of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. Please see our detailed guide on the EB-5 visa to learn more.


4. Diversity Lottery


Every year, the United States hosts a lottery for international immigrants from countries that have not, historically, had a high rate of immigration to the United States. Thus, countries such as India, Philippines, Mexico, or China (for example) are not included in the Diversity Lottery.


The lottery is done annually and is approximately a month long every fall. The lottery registration has no government filing fees. Upon registering, keep your number in a safe place as that number will allow you to recover your lottery results. As with any lottery, your chances of winning are 100% luck based. Meaning that your merits (such as what potential contributions you could bring to the United States) is not evaluated for your lottery success. Yet, keep in mind that if you are applying from a country with low number of applicants, your chances do increase, as the lottery is regionally as opposed to globally based.


5. Asylum


The United States recognizes the right of asylum as defined under international and federal law. Asylum applicants must establish that they fear persecution in their home country and that the government will not protect them from this persecution.


Their claim to asylum must fall on account of one of five protected grounds: religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or “particular social group.”


This persecution can be established by past harm or experiences endured by the asylee applicant and/or their community, friends, or family.


One can apply for asylum upon arriving at a port of entry or within the United States. You should try to apply for asylum within one year of arriving, unless you can prove your delay for applying was due to exceptional circumstances. To submit an application for asylum please fill out form I-589.


An approved asylum matter will allow you to have asylee status and, after one year, eligibility for a US Green Card. Note that if you apply for asylum and your matter is denied by the asylum officer, you will be referred to an immigration judge (be placed into removal proceedings) to re-submit your case. Thus, it is important that you carefully prepare your asylum submission.


6. U and T Visas


Historically, undocumented individuals were afraid to report crimes to the police, due to fear of being referred to ICE. To eradicate this systemic issue, Congress created the T and U visas to encourage victims to step forward and report serious crimes. Upon obtaining an approved T or U visa, one can apply for a Green Card. Keep in mind that only enumerated crime will qualify for these humanitarian benefits.


The T visa specifically offers protections to victims of human trafficking. This allows victims to stay in the United States and collaborate with the police and authorities in order to investigate and prosecute trafficking perpetrators. To apply for a T visa, you will need to submit a Form I-914 along with a detailed statement explaining your eligibility.


The U Visa includes the benefits of the T visa and allows victims of human trafficking, among victims of other crimes, such as, but not limited to: abduction, rape, witness tampering, stalking, torture, felonious assault, to file for immigration benefits in the United States.


In order to apply for a U visa, you will need to submit a Form I-918 along with the Form I-918 Supplement B, which should be certified by the police or district attorney’s office. This certification will demonstrate that the foreign national was helpful to law enforcement in the crime investigation. If the victim of the crime is not helpful to the local police or prosecuting agency, then USCIS will deem they are not qualified for a U visa.


7. VAWA: Violence Again Women Act


Another consideration non-citizens should consider, is the possibility of getting a green card as a self-petitioner under VAWA, which is short for the “Violence Against Women Act.” VAWA was a piece of legislation passed protect individuals who are in abusive marriages to US Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card holders). The law sought to incentivize them to leave their emotionally and/or physically abusive relationships and still obtain lawful immigration status. With VAWA, the petitioning citizen or Permanent Resident spouse need not be in the picture in order to secure immigration benefits.


To qualify for VAWA you need to show:


  • That you were married to a US Citizen or Green Card holder – despite the name, both men and women qualify for VAWA benefits; and


  • That the marriage was terminated due to abuse (can be emotionally or physical).


Keep I mind that noncitizen children (and/or stepchildren) of abusive citizens and Legal Permanent Residents can also qualify for VAWA before turning the age of 25. If the parent is a foreign national and their noncitizen child was abused (while they were spared) both parties can still apply for VAWA.


8. Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to get a green card to the United States. You may be surprised by the all the options that immigration law has to offer and where you may fit in. Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding of the different options that are available.


I hope that you found this information helpful!


Remember, you have avenues to get a green card through so many ways: from employment-based categories (even without having any actual employment or job offer), a lottery, to being a victim of certain crimes.


If you have any questions about how you may qualify for a Green Card or if you need help evaluating any complexities with your case, please feel free to email me directly at I’m very responsive via email and I would be happy to help you.


Share this post...

Based on 705 reviews
Michael and his company have helped me several times with obtaining necessary immigration documents. They are professionals in their field. Always available, they provide knowledgeable consultations... and handle everything with high quality. Many thanks for the excellent outcome. I highly recommend Michael's more
Adriana R.
I was able to get my E2 visa because of Michael Ashoori’s law firm. They were very attentive to my case and it was done in a timely manner and everything I was told was correct and accurate. My visa... was approved and I was very prepared for my appointment by the lawyer that was given to me. I would 100% recommend this firm for your immigration needs. These are definitely some of the best lawyers to work with and very knowledgeable in the immigration field. I will definitely work with them again when it’s time to renew my visa. Thank you Ashoori more
Imran M.
Ashoori Law helped me getting my L1 visa. Highly professional staff, very helpful and provide every useful information that you need. I recommend them for all your US visa needs.
Cliff F.
Anna K.
Extremely polite, patient and helpful. I found Jeser's advice to be very on point, relevant to my case and he patiently heard my case and suggested best route possible.
Hassan A.
Ashoori Law handled my IR1 immigration case. I would say that you handled it very professionally.I'm incredibly grateful for your dedication and hard work.Your guidance made my experience truly... exceptional, and I felt extremely confident during the whole process.Your ability to navigate the complexities of visa applications is impressive, and I highly recommend your services to anyone embarking on this journey.Your step-by-step guidance and availability to address concerns make the process seamless.Thank you again for your invaluable support!read more
David M.
Overall we have had a very positive experience with Ashoori Law stewarding us (myself and my fiancee) through the K1 visa application process. They were very conscientious in promptly responding to... questions and comments we had regarding the application process and application materials. My fiancee's K1 visa was approved, and she has recently joined me in the U.S. I can recommend Ashoori Law without more
Muneer B.
I reached out to Michael Ashoori Law in March of 2024 regarding my green card renewal, within one day he replied to me and assigned me an expert to help me. Within one week I had 2 scheduled phone... calls to better understand exactly what kind of support that I need. I was assigned an expert to fill my forms and helped me file my green card renewal.What I really liked about this, that the expert explained in details about the process, how much time it might take, helped me fill the forms, most importantly answered all my questions with high concern and professionalism. Today, I recieved my physical card in the mail. Thank you Michael, Katie, Julio, and Rachel, you were great! I will definitely refer you to my colleagues and friends.Wishing Micheal Ashoori Law and his team much success.Thank you so much 🙏Muneerread more
Binsur Erin Y.
We had Ashoori law help us with our Visa application and everything went very smoothly!
Matt S.
I highly recommend Ashoori Law! They were very professional, easy to work with, and successfully helped me obtain my E2 visa. I was pleased to have been assigned to Attorney Pardeep Singh. I had a... complicated case with 2 prior refusals from another law firm. Pardeep advised me on the consequences of my immigration history, explained the requirements for my new E2 application, expertly prepared and filed my application, and thoroughly prepared me for the Consular interview.Do not make the same mistake I did and waste your time with other immigration lawyers. Ashoori Law should be your go to law firm for all your immigration more
Elyza M.
I thank Ashoori Law for taking care of our K1Visa.I would highly recommend, everything is a smooth process.Still get them to handle for our next step in the US soon..
Jenson J.
All the services for my GC application was taken care and the best part is you can reach lawyer with questions anytime, happy with the service and results
Deko E.
Ashoori Law is the best.
רותם ש.
Amazing service!!!
Priyank B.
Ashoori law is cooperative and has very good patience to handle the case, as it was difficult for us to find the business. They gave us enough time and my wife’s E2 visa approved successfully. Thanks... to the whole Ashoori laws team!!read more
Kelvin R.
I’d like to thank Ashoori Law , the whole firm and especially the lawyers and assistants that participated in my process. They were always professional , efficient, knowledgeable and helpful through... every step of the way , they always answered my questions thoroughly and made sure that there was always transparency in our communication. If ever an immigration lawyer is needed I would first and foremost suggest Ashoori Law. Thank you more
Waleed S.
Michael's team is very knowledgeable.After the initial consultation, they connected me with Sergio, who is extremely communicative, and organized.The entire process was smooth, and I felt... confident that I had selected the right more
Nupur D.
I used Ashoori law for my permit application. What I loved about working with them is the care that they took of me and my case. They were genuinely interested in helping me. They were responsive and... give me almost personalised attention by answering all my questions in detail.I also loved the way they manage the cases Through a dashboard where you can see the latest status of your case. It really helped me access the status of my application at any time I wanted.Their fee was very reasonable. Their understanding of the legal implications of my application was comprehensive. I intend to continue to use their services in the future. 👍read more
Ayush A.
All processes were done in a timely manner. Their communication was really good and each process was explained in depth.
Got my E2 renewed today! Happy with Ashoori Law. Thank you guys! Will use you again in the future.
Robert Hector C.
I am immensely grateful to Ashoori Law for their exceptional assistance with my E2 Investor Visa. From the very beginning, Attorney Pardeep Singh Channa demonstrated an unparalleled level of... professionalism and responsiveness. His expertise and dedication were evident throughout the entire process, ensuring that every detail was meticulously handled.Attorney Channa's commitment to his clients is truly remarkable. He took the time to explain each step, answer all my questions promptly, and provided invaluable guidance that made the entire process seamless. His professionalism and personal approach made me feel supported and confident in achieving a successful outcome.I highly recommend Ahoori Law, Michael's team and especially Attorney Pardeep Singh Channa to anyone seeking legal assistance with their visa applications. Their outstanding service and genuine care for their clients are truly commendable.I wanted to give them 10 stars, but Google has a limit to 5 stars for excellent service. So here goes their five star rating!read more
I Have excellent experience with Ashoori law firm for our E2 visa process. I would to thanks Michael & his team specially Shruti who personally handled my case and get it done . Ashoori Law you’re... exceptional, professional and knowledgeable in what you do. You answered all our questions promptly and handled all visa filings accurately and timely. We will surely recommend your service to anyone with no doubt in our minds that you will do excellent more
Nicole G.
We used Ashoori law for our E2 visa process! Once we recieved our free consultation we proceeded to go with Ashoori law as they have a 98% success rate and seemed extremely knowledgeable.Ashoori law... then set us up with our attorney (Cristina Casabianca) she was absolutely amazing at communicating with us and letting us know exactly what we needed.Every step along the way was straight forward and seamless.We are happy to say that our E2 was approved!!Thank you Ashoori law for all the more
Faraz H.
Thank God I found Ashoori Law as they made this difficult journey so much easier. The whole team from Michael, Matthew, Clare, Camille, and Jeser were all so kind and patient. One of the best... customer service I’ve ever came across. They were all so helpful and understanding. They all cared about my situation and helped us so much!Their service is phenomenal. They made this complicated, stressful, and overwhelming immigration paperwork so simple. All we had to do was give them our information and they took it from there. They did everything for us!Again, I cannot stress enough how caring and helpful the whole team is. Every week they would send inquiries to the embassy for us. They responded to my emails as soon as possible. They did so much for us.I will definitely worked with Ashoori Law again in the future. I hope many more people that are in my situation find Ashoori Law as more
Allen G.
They were informative and very professional. Got the case done smoothly and on time. I would highly recommend Ashoori Law Firm.
What to E.
Very professional firm with attentive and honest staff. Response time was great I truly recommend!
Joao C.
I has been a client of Ashoori Law since 2019, when I needed to replace mine and my family's Green Cards as well as getting reentry renewal permits. Ashoori Law's team as whole has always provided... outstanding services, with immediate reponsiveness all times I contacted them, as well as with thorough competency and tust. Now I need a new service regarding Green Card, and I am lucky not to have to contact other firms. If you need any advice and services on immigration needs, your seek is over: just go with Ashoori!read more
vimal P.
It’s been pleasure working with you guys , you guys guide me and helped me a lot through out my E2 visa application.
David O.
Ashoori Law Firm handled my application with excellent know-how, professionalism and attention to detail. They took their time to compile all important details, full understanding on how to proceed... and filed a complete application. The outcome was approval on first attempt. Ashoori Law is highly more
Andrisan O.
Very efficient and well organised. Will use again.
Rajesh B.
I applied my citizenship through them and they are so professional and thorough in the process. The Lawyer they assigned is great. She did all the work within couple of days and filing was done... within a week. I got my citizenship in less than 3 months without any issues. Thanks a lot for all your help. And don’t forget, the price is very reasonable compared to other in this more
Hazem A.
"I feel incredibly fortunate to have come across Ashoori Law, even though they are based on the opposite coast from me. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everything shut down, I needed to renew my... work visa, but I wasn't sure how to proceed. That's where Ashoori Law came in - they helped me and my company decide to switch to a permanent resident visa through work. Throughout the process, Michael was always available to answer questions and provide guidance. My designated lawyer, Lorianne, was also amazing - she did everything right and made me feel like part of the family. I never hesitated to reach out to them for help, and they always found the best solution. Michael even made recommendations during the early stages of the process. Currently, we're in the process of submitting form I-140, and as usual, they're handling everything very professionally. I can't thank them enough, and I would highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone who needs immigration support."read more
Taiwo feranmi O.
Ashoori Law you’re exceptional, professional and knowledgeable in what you do. You answered all our questions promptly and handled all our immigration filings accurately and timely. We will surely... recommend your service to anyone with no doubt in our minds that you will do excellent work.From all our family, we say “Thank you”Taiwo OYEDELEDolapo AdekoyaRound RockTexas USAread more
Roberto P.
I contacted Ashoori Law to get help with the GC re-entry permit for me and my wife. The whole procedure was pretty smooth. They are very responsive, well organized and know what they are doing.... Highly recommended. Roberto and Lauraread more
Hasnain B.
had a lovely experience with Ashoori law. They have a team of competent lawyers who guide you through every stage of your process. I highly recommend Ashoori law to people who are looking a smooth... process and a trust worthy law firm to handle their more
Harim J.
This is my second time to work with Ashoori Law for my re-entry permit. I definitely recommend them as they promptly answered my emails and processed my application. I also liked that they have their... own portal system, where I could automatically track my todo list, as well as the status of my more
Muhammad Qasim B.
Applied for E2 Visa and Approved from my Home Country Pakistan. A Very Professional Services, Very Good Team. I highly reccomend Ashoori Laws. We wish them best of luck for their business and their... more
Excellent case description and answering questions in a friendly and supportive manner. Excellent meeting and communication skills. Really appreciated Mr. Antonio Castro for support and his skills... for client more
Mike R.
Ashoori has been very helpful in our application for my fiancée's K-1 Visa. They were great and informative in putting out application package together and have been on top of the deadlines/process... every step of the way. Would recommend Ashoori for your immigration legal needs and more
Next Reviews
Michael Ashoori Headshot

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.