How Non-Married Persons Can Get a Green Card In the United States
Here’s What We’re Going To Cover:
- Family-Based Immigration 2
- Employment-Based Green Cards 2
- Special Immigrants 4
- The Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery 4
- I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker 5
- I-360, Petition for Special Immigrants, Amerasians, Widows or Widowers 6
- I-130, Petition for Alien Relative 6
- I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 6
- Necessary Supporting Documents 6
- Consular Processing 7
How to Get a Green Card Without Marriage
One of the most straightforward paths to becoming a U.S. green card holder is by marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This option is not available to everyone, however, as it must be a valid marriage formed for a purpose other than getting a green card. Fortunately, there are other more suitable routes to becoming a green card holder.
Available Green Card Options
There are essentially three kinds of green cards: family-based visas, employment-based visas, and special immigrant visas. Some of these have subcategories, which we explore below. We also examine the yearly diversity visa lottery.
A marriage based green card is available to immediate relatives of a U.S. permanent resident or citizen. This includes the spouse, dependents, siblings, and parents.
Family-based green cards are the simplest way to a green card, but most foreign nationals who apply for an immigrant green card do not have familial or marriage ties to someone already residing long-term in the U.S.
As such, some immigrants might first seek a spouse from the United States. It is good to be aware that adequate proof of the integrity and affection present in the marriage will need to be presented to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Friends and relatives of the two married persons might be asked about the relationship as well.
A marriage based green card may not be a viable option for many individuals interested in immigrating.
A green card applicant without any U.S.-based family can explore other avenues. Those with special skill sets, notable academic honors, unique qualities, or otherwise valuable personal assets stand a good chance of securing a green card. Employment-based green cards remain a popular choice.
We recommend finding good legal counsel with a background in immigration law when trying to get a green card. Such a lawyer will assist in selecting the appropriate green card application for each foreign citizen, so that the applicant is best prepared for and likely to receive approval of their petition. When seeking a green card attorney, it is best to look not just for experience in immigration law, but in specific fields within that scope.
Employment-Based Green Cards
There are five green card categories of employment-based green card programs, all with their own specific requirements:
- EB-1 (first preference).
- EB-2 (second preference).
- EB-3 (third preference).
- EB-4 (fourth preference).
- EB-5 (investment-based).
A foreign citizen already living and working in the U.S. can talk to their employer about trying to get a green card.
Petitions for employment-based green card programs are filed on behalf of the immigrant after receiving a job offer by either their employer, potential employer, or legal attorney. It is critical to ensure that all employment-based documents submitted to USCIS are accurate in order to prevent delays in a sometimes-lengthy process.
EB-1 green cards are intended for a green card applicant who can demonstrate notable achievement or ambition. They might:
- Have extraordinary ability or renown that will continue under development, or
- Be known as an outstanding teacher or researcher with at least three years of experience, currently looking for tenure or research opportunities in the U.S., or
- Intend to perform in certain eligible managerial and executive roles within an already-existing business agreement.
EB-2 green cards are best suited to immigrant visa applicants possessing one of these two:
- An advanced degree or foreign equivalent.
- Exceptional ability in the fields of science, business, or art.
- Skilled workers with at least two years of qualified training, experience, or education.
- Professionals with a baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent, applying for a U.S. work position experiencing a labor shortage.
- Unskilled workers applying for a position lacking U.S. employees.
The EB-4 visa covers a wide variety of employment positions, including:
- Licensed doctor or physician.
- Religious worker or spiritual leader.
- Media personnel.
- Member of the U.S. armed forces.
- Qualifying government employee.
- Afghani or Iraqi language translator.
- Special immigrant juvenile.
- Victim who has experienced abuse and hardship from a family member.
Some of these employment-based green cards are limited in supply, so it is wise to consult with a lawyer about availability if it sounds like any of these green card categories are fitting.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Green Card
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is for foreign entrepreneurs who have sufficient investment capital to put into a qualified U.S. business for the purpose of job creation and stimulation of the U.S. economy. Here are some of the primary requirements for the EB-5 investment program:
- Initial minimum EB5 investment of $800,000 or $1,050,000, depending on the type of project chosen.
- The business must produce and sustain 10 U.S. jobs, either directly or indirectly, for a two-year period.
- Accurate documentation and submission of forms to USCIS along a specified timeline.
Most EB-5 investments are made through EB-5 regional centers which operate in the U.S. to pair immigrant investors with projects. There are many advantages to investing in a regional center project, including being able to count induced and indirect jobs within the total count of 10 created jobs.
EB5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN) is one of the top EB-5 regional center operators and consultancies in the U.S., with a leading team of legal experts and industry professionals. EB5AN may be contacted for more information about the EB-5 process and how to get a green card.
The Special Immigrant Visa Program is geared toward Afghani or Iraqi nationals. A foreign citizen of Afghanistan or Iraq must either be under great personal duress or hardship, an employee of the United States government or have performed some remarkable service to the U.S. to apply for a special immigrant green card.
Various papers are required, such as letters of recommendation, biographical documents, Chief of Mission (COM) written approval, and a medical waiver. A final interview with USCIS is also necessary.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery
Every year, 50,000 green cards are reserved for immigration purposes for those foreign nationals from countries with lower rates of immigration application. The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DIV) Program was established to allow those with less access to resources a chance for U.S. residency and possible citizenship.
Only those with certain skill sets or education are eligible for what is essentially a green cards lottery, as the recipients of such a green card are chosen at random. In spite of what can sometimes be a rigorous program, many U.S. permanent residents have received their green cards in such a manner. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is the primary entity overseeing this yearly green card lottery.
If a foreign citizen wins a diversity immigrant green card while legally residing in the United States with non-immigrant status, they will receive notice of when they can put in their green card application. They must then submit Form I-485, or Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to USCIS for processing.
Determining Which Green Card Option is Right
Those who are trying to find out how to relocate to the U.S. without a marriage based green card should seek the advice of an immigration attorney. Most lawyers offer free consultations. An immigration lawyer with EB-5 experience is the best asset an alien investor can have along the way.
To determine which path to a green card is best, consider these before applying:
- Personal achievements.
- Education or advanced degrees.
- Valuable skill sets.
- Teaching or job experience.
- Length of available wait time.
- Eligibility of other family members.
- Specific program requirements.
- Income level.
- Filing fees.
How to Apply for a Green Card Without Marriage
Depending on the green card route, some of the most common petitions encountered during the application process are the I-140, I-360, I-130, and I-526 forms.
I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker
Immigration Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, is an employee-based form that is filled out when a person of remarkable talents wants to work and live in the U.S. with the sponsorship of a U.S. employer.
The job offer may or may not require labor certification, and the foreign worker will need to be able to claim at least one of these as being true of themselves:
- A person with extraordinary skills.
- A professor or researcher of great note.
- A manager or business executive for a qualified U.S. business.
- In possession of an advanced academic degree.
- Applying for a job for which there is a shortage of U.S. applicants.
I-360, Petition for Special Immigrants, Amerasians, Widows or Widowers
Form I-360 is for:
- Any special immigrant.
- The widowed person of a U.S. citizen or resident.
- A foreign national who meets the eligibility requirements listed above for the fourth-preference EB-4 green card.
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, is filed by a U.S. permanent resident or citizen on behalf of their immediate immigrant family members, including spouse and children, for the purpose of them becoming long-term permanent residents.
I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, Form I-526, is the first application submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for the immigrant investment green card approval process after an EB-5 investment has been made in a new commercial enterprise (NCE). Proof must be shown that the business in question is expected to produce and sustain at least 10 full-time U.S. jobs for two years.
Once the I-526 petition is approved, the immigrant investor will file for a conditional permanent residency card. If they are residing in the United States at that time, they must file Form I-485. If outside of the U.S., they will file Form DS-260.
After I-485 or DS-260 is approved and the EB-5 investor has their conditional lawful permanent residence (CLPR), there is a waiting period of two years. During this period, the immigrant has the right to live, work and travel in the United States and must spend at least half of that time present in the U.S.
Ninety days before the end of the two years, they are required to file Form I-829, or Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to lift conditions on their U.S. residency. The investor will then become a U.S. lawful permanent resident with a 10-year renewable green card.
Necessary Supporting Documents
There are certain documents that accompany every application depending on which avenue is taken:
- Recent photographs.
- Biographical information.
- Birth certificate.
- Academic records.
- Financial statements.
- Work history.
- Criminal activity.
- Recommendations of character.
If the above documents are not fully transparent, there may be lengthy delays until final adjudication. Professional assistance is recommended.
If a foreign national is outside the United States while filing for permanent U.S. residency, they must conduct the process in tandem with the local U.S. consulate or embassy in their community. Consular processing entails personal interaction and interviews with the government agency and any officials involved in the home country’s immigration programs.
It is important to maintain transparency throughout the process, especially regarding personal health or criminal history.
Summary of Green Card Options for Unmarried Persons
Those who want to know how to become a green card holder without marriage should consider these options first as having the most potential for gaining permanent residency:
- An employment-based green card.
- An investment-based green card.
- The yearly green card lottery.
If any of these seem likely, the first step should be to contact a dependable attorney before starting the immigration process. EB5AN is always available to guide potential investors and provide further information on how to get a green card in USA without marriage.