It is the dream of many people around the world to live and work in the United States for the rest of their lives. To realize this dream, foreign citizens must obtain permanent residency through one of a number of different channels. A permanent resident is a non-U.S. Citizen who has been authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Obtaining permanent residency is commonly referred to as receiving a green card.

A green card holder may also be referred to as a:

  • Legal permanent resident
  • Lawful permanent resident or
  • Permanent resident alien.

Avenues to Obtaining Permanent Residency

There is a wide array ways to successfully get a green card. However, some avenues are much more common than others. Some of the most popular ways of obtaining permanent residency in the United States are:

  • Through a family member. If you are the relative of a United States citizen or the relative of a green card holder, you may be able to attempt family-based immigration. This may be an option if a spouse, parent, child, or sibling is already a U.S. permanent resident or citizen.
  • Through an employer. If you are already employed in the United States and have a work visa, you may have a pathway to a green card. This may especially be the case if you have an extraordinary ability, if you have advanced degrees, if your work particularly benefits the United States, or if you are a manager or executive.
  • Through the green card lottery. Each year, the United States Department of State holds a lottery that allows citizens from low-immigration countries around the world to enter the country as permanent residents.
  • Through significant investment. There are multiple options for foreigners who wish to invest a significant amount of money into a project in the United States. These investments of either $500,000 or $1 million must improve the U.S. economy and create jobs.
  • Through refugee programs. If you have lived in the United States for at least one year as a refugee of another country, you may apply for permanent citizenship under certain circumstances.

Maintaining Permanent Residency (Keeping Your Green Card)

While permanent residents can live and work in the United States permanently, there are still ways that a green card holder may lose his or her status. Specifically, you may lose your green card if:

  • You leave the country for too long. A foreign national that remains abroad for over a year without obtaining a reentry permit may lose his or her permanent residency upon attempted return.
  • You fail to pay taxes. If you do not fill out a tax return, or if you file your taxes as a nonimmigrant, you can lose your permanent residency status.
  • You commit a serious crime. You can lose your green card if you commit certain crimes. While there is no set list of crimes that led to green card loss, individuals in the past have lost permanent residency for violent crimes, drug charges, domestic violence, theft, and sex offenses.
  • You committed fraud to get your green card. If you lied or otherwise committed fraud to obtain permanent residence, you will lose your status and likely be deported.

Become a Permanent Resident With the Help of a Green Card Attorney

Whether you are already living in the United States on a visa, or whether you would like to enter the country as a permanent resident, we can help you understand U.S. immigration law and your possible avenues leading toward residency, permanent residency, and citizenship.

At Feldman Feldman & Associates, we are committed to helping people of all types and from all corners of the globe realize their dream of living and working in America. Contact our team of experienced, knowledgeable immigration attorneys today to get assistance with your immigration or visa needs.