What is a green card?



    A green card allows a non-U.S. citizen to gain permanent residence in the United States. Many people from outside the United States want a green card because it would allow them to live and work (lawfully) anywhere in the United States and qualify forU.S. citizenshipafter three or five years. If you’re looking to apply,Boundless offers green card support without the high price tag.Learn moreabout what we do to help.

    Green Card Timeline;

    The processing time for a green card is anywhere from 7-56 months, depending on the type of green card you’re applying for and where you’re applying from.

    APPLYING FROM WITHIN THE UNITED STATES

    For spouses and immediate relatives (parents and minor children) of U.S. citizens applying from within the United States through adjustment of status, the wait is currently 21-38 months. For spouses of U.S. green card holders, other relatives of U.S. citizens, and employment-based green cards, the wait can be much longer, typically two years or more.

    Let Boundless help you get started on your adjustment of status application today!

    APPLYING FROM OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    For spouses and immediate relatives (parents and minor children) of U.S. citizens applying from outside the United States via consular processing, the wait is currently 7-34 months. All other green card categories are subject to country caps, and wait times vary dramatically.

    Green Card Costs;

    The government filing fee for a family-based green card is $1,760 for an applicant applying from within the United States, and $1,200 for an applicant living outside the United States. Note, this does not include the cost of the medical exam, which varies by provider. Learn more about the costs of a family-based green card.

    For other green card categories, check the USCIS website for the cost of your particular form.

    Need more help? At Boundless, you’ll get an experienced immigration attorney to review your green card application and answer all of your questions — for no extra cost. Get started on your application today!

    Different Types of Green Cards;

    Types of Green Cards

    There are many categories of green cards. The most common types are:

    • Family-Based Green Card
    • Employment-Based Green Card
    • Humanitarian Green Cards
    • Diversity Lottery Green Card
    • Longtime-Resident Green Card
    • Other Green Cards
    • Each of these is covered in more detail below.

    Family-Based Green Card;

    Close relatives of U.S. citizens and current green card holders may apply for family-based green cards of their own. Eligible family members include spouses, children, parents, and siblings (as well as the spouses and children of those spouses, adult children, and siblings).

    Also included in this category are widows and widowers who were married to a U.S. citizen at the time the citizen died. Like spouses of living U.S. citizens and current green card holders who apply for a marriage-based green card, widows and widowers must prove that their marriage was authentic in order to receive a green card.

    Many extended family members — cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents — do not qualify. They may apply for a green card only if they, too, have a closer relative who is a U.S. citizen or current green card holder (or qualify for one of the other types of green cards below).

    Boundless can help you obtain a green card. We make it easy to complete your green card application and avoid common problems. Learn more about what Boundless does, or start your application today.

    Employment-Based Green Card;

    Within the employment-based green card category, multiple subcategories of workers can apply for permanent residence. In some cases, their spouses and children may qualify for a green card, as well.

    The following table lists the employment-based subcategories and the types of jobs that fall under them:

    Category

    Jobs included

    Priority workers (EB-1)

    • Positions in the arts, sciences, education, business, and athletics that require extraordinary* ability
    • Outstanding professors and researchers
    • Multinational managers and executives

    Professionals with advanced degrees and exceptional abilities (EB-2)

    • Positions requiring at least a master’s degree
    • Positions requiring at least a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree, plus at least five years’ relevant experience
    • Positions in the sciences, arts, or business requiring exceptional* ability
    • Positions of national interest

    Physicians (EB-2 with a special waiver)

    • Physicians who agree to work full-time in underserved areas for a specific period and meet other eligibility criteria

    Skilled, unskilled, and professional workers (EB-3)

    • Skilled positions that require a minimum of two years’ training or experience that is not temporary or seasonal
    • Unskilled positions that require less than two years’ training or experience that is not temporary or seasonal
    • Professional positions that require at least a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree from a U.S. university or college or the equivalent of this degree from a non-U.S. school

    Special workers (EB-4)

    • Media professionals
    • Religious workers and ministers
    • Afghanistan and Iraq nationals who have served the U.S. government under certain capacities
    • Certain other employees, retirees, and their family members

    Investors (EB-5)

    • Non-U.S. nationals who have invested or are investing at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a high-unemployment or rural area) in a new U.S. business that will create full-time positions for at least 10 workers

    *Extraordinary ability is demonstrated “through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    **Exceptional ability refers to “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered” in your field.

    Humanitarian Green Cards;

    For refugees and asylees

    People who fear, or have experienced, persecution in their home country — because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group — can seek protection in the United States by applying for a visa from abroad (to come as refugees) or from within the United States (to remain as asylees).

    Once they have physically lived in the United States for at least one year since receiving refugee status or asylum, they may apply for a green card. Children and spouses (and in some cases, other family members) of refugees and asylees may also seek protection in the United States under these programs and eventually apply for a green card.

    For human-trafficking victims

    Victims of human trafficking who are living in the United States — whether lawfully or unlawfully (in other words, “undocumented”) — may apply for a T visa to stay in the United States for up to four years. As a condition of the T visa, however, they must help to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking (unless the victim is under age 18, in which case they need not help with such efforts).

    To qualify for a green card, the applicant must have physically lived in the United States for one of the following periods, whichever is shorter:

    • Three years since receiving a T visa
    • The duration of an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking

    They must also meet other eligibility requirements. These include, for instance, demonstrating “good moral character” (meaning they have not committed certain crimes, such as fraud, prostitution, or murder) from the time they received a T visa until they’re approved for a green card. As another example, they must demonstrate to the U.S. government that they would suffer extreme hardship involving severe harm if they were required to leave the United States. (USCIS provides the full list of eligibility criteria.)

    Certain family members will also be eligible to apply for their own green cards as long as both those relatives and the victim satisfy all requirements.

    For crime victims

    Victims of “substantial physical or mental abuse” who are living in the United States — whether lawfully or unlawfully (in other words, “undocumented”) — may seek protection by applying for a U visa. To obtain a U visa, the victim’s application must be certified by a law enforcement agency. Like recipients of T visas (see above), an applicant for a U visa must also agree to help investigate and prosecute people who commit certain crimes, such as kidnapping, sexual assault, and torture.

    To qualify for a green card, however, the applicant will need to fulfill other eligibility requirements, including the following examples:

    • They must have physically lived in the United States for at least three years since receiving a U visa.
    • They must not have left the United States from the time they applied for a green card until USCIS has approved (or denied) their application.
    • They must not have refused to help investigate or prosecute certain crimes from the time they received a U visa until USCIS approves (or denies) their green card application.

    The victim’s children, parents, siblings, and spouse will also be eligible to apply for their own green cards as long as both those relatives and the victim satisfy all requirements.

    For abuse victims

    Victims of domestic violence (battery or extreme cruelty) may apply for a green card that would allow them to seek relief through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Although this law was created to benefit women, it applies to both women and men, and both parents and children, who are victims of abuse.

    An abuse victim may apply for a green card on their own — without the knowledge or permission of their abusive relative, who can include:

    • A current or former spouse who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
    • A parent who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
    • A child who is a U.S. citizen

    USCIS will not notify the abusive relative of the application in order to keep the victim safe. (Full eligibility requirements are detailed on the USCIS website.)

    IMPORTANT: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse now, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline right away at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). You’ll be able to talk with someone about available resources, such as shelters, mental health care, and legal assistance. The hotline also provides information about green cards through VAWA.