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How do you qualify for a green card?

If you are a foreign national who wants to reside permanently in the United States, a green card is the document that grants you the right to do so. However, not just anyone can get a green card. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services imposes eligibility requirements that you must meet first.

There are different eligibility requirements that you may have to meet depending on your situation. The government organizes these in separate categories to keep things organized and avoid any confusion. If you belong to one of the following categories, you may be eligible for a green card.

Refugee or asylee

If you came to the United States to escape persecution in your home country, you probably received either refugee status or asylum. Once you have been in the country for at least one year as a refugee or asylee, you are eligible to apply for a green card.


If you have a job in the United States, you may be eligible for a green card as an immigrant worker. The government assigns you a preference based on your skill level, with the most skilled workers receiving first preference. You may also be able to qualify for a green card through employment as an immigrant investor or a physician willing to work for a set time period in an underserved area.


You may be eligible for a green card if you have a family member who is already in the United States. The closer the relation, the greater preference you may receive. It also makes a difference whether your relative is a lawful permanent resident or a full citizen, with the latter receiving greater preference.

These are only a few of the green card eligibility categories. If you do not qualify under these categories, you may still be eligible for a green card under one of the others.