Many foreign nationals holding temporary lawful status in the U.S., from business owners and employees to students and exchange visitors, may be curious to know whether permanent options to stay in the U.S. are available to them.
So, can you convert your non-immigrant (temporary) status to a permanent resident (green card) status? Luckily, for many non-immigrant visa holders, options for permanent residency may be available. If you hope to become a green card holder in the U.S, you may have options to adjust your lawful status in the U.S. without having to leave the country. If adjustment of status inside the U.S. is not possible, then you must leave the country upon expiration of your lawful status and process your green card application via the U.S. consulate or embassy. The administrative process available to you will depend on your temporary visa status, the remaining duration of your non-immigrant status and which green card options are available to you. It is always prudent to discuss your options with a knowledgeable immigration attorney, as each individual situation differs.
For now, let’s break down the routes which may take you from temporary to permanent status in the United States.
- Family-based green card – This option is the most common and most direct path to a green card, especially if you are classified as an “immediate” family member, meaning the spouse, minor child or parent of a U.S. citizen. Other relative categories are also available, such as adult or married children of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
- Foreign nationals who have suffered extreme cruelty or abuse at the hands of their U.S. citizen spouse, parent or adult child, may be able to self-sponsor their green card application under the Women Against Violence Act (VAWA). Despite its title, VAWA relief is available to men and women.
- Employment-based green card – You receive a full-time job from an U.S. employer who is willing to sponsor your green card application. The employer generally must engage in a recruitment process as part of the sponsorship to ensure there are no willing and qualified U.S. workers available.
- National Interest Waiver (NIW) – You may be able to receive an employment-based green card without employer sponsorship if you can demonstrate exceptional ability in your occupation, including recognition of your achievements. Your proposed endeavor in the U.S. should have substantial merit and be of national importance.
- Special Immigrants – You may qualify for a green card if your occupation or nationality falls into one of the specifically designated categories, such as a religious worker, member of the U.S. armed forces, or an Afghani or Iraqi translator. Visit the USCIS website here for a complete list of special immigrant categories.
- Investor green card – Have close to a million or two to spare? Foreign nationals willing to invest between $900,000 to $1,800,000 in a U.S. commercial enterprise that will create at least 10 qualifying employees may qualify for the EB-5 green card.
If you are inside the U.S. as a non-immigrant visa holder, do not miss out on a potential opportunity to apply for your permanent residency. Consult with an immigration attorney to learn about your options of becoming a permanent resident in the U.S.
Because of the complexities of immigration law and unique circumstances of your case, a free immigration consultation with the Milovic Law Firm will start you on the right path. Whether you are in Phoenix Arizona or anywhere in the U.S., we can help make your green card dreams a reality.