The 3 most common ways to get a green card

Immigration law in the United States can be complicated. There are a number of different ways that you can apply for visas, green cards, and citizenship, and it can be difficult to understand which path is right for you. At Zohar Law in NYC, we can help you determine the best way that you can legally live in the United States.

In this blog post, we are going to discuss the three most common ways that you can apply for your green card or permanent resident card. Continue reading to learn more and if you are ready to speak to an experienced immigration law team, contact Zohar Law today. We can help you make the United States your home.



The most popular way to get your green card in America is through a family member who is already an American citizen. If you are the immediate family of a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a visa without waiting in line, and once you have your visa and are in the United States, you can apply for your permanent resident card. United States citizens can petition for an immediate family member if they fall into one of the following categories:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Children of U.S. citizens (unmarried and under the age of 21)
  • Parents of U.S. citizens (the petitioning citizen must be 21 or older)

A U.S. citizen or permanent resident card holder may also petition for family members that are not immediate family to be eligible for visas. These family members are placed into preference categories and there are limits on how many visas are available each year for each category. A non-immediate family member that may be petitioned for must fall into the following preference categories:

First Preference

  • Unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older

Second Preference (2A)

  • Spouses of green card holders and unmarried children of permanent residents who are under the age of 21

Second Preference (2B)

  • Unmarried children of permanent residents who are over the age of 21

Third Preference

  • Married children of U.S. citizens of any age

Fourth Preference

  • Siblings of adult U.S. citizens


The second most common way to apply for your permanent resident card is through your employment. Whether you’re a doctor, laborer, or professor, you can apply for a permanent resident card through your job if your employer is in the United States.

The type of job you have determines which preference category you will fall into. There are three preferences, which will affect how long it will take to get your green card. The three preferences for getting your green card through your job are as follows:

First Preference

  • You have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics
  • You are an outstanding professor or researcher
  • You are a multinational manager or executive who meets certain criteria

Second Preference

  • You are a member of a profession that requires an advanced degree
  • You have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business
  • You are seeking a national interest waiver

Third Preference

  • You are a skilled worker and your job requires a minimum of 2 years of training or work experience
  • You are a professional and your job requires at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent and you are a member of the profession
  • You are an unskilled worker and your job requires less than 2 years of training or experience and you will perform unskilled labor


An individual who has entered the United States under refugee or asylum law is eligible to apply for their green card a year after their visa has been approved. In order to apply for a visa under asylum or refugee status, an individual must establish that they have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of prosecution in their home country on account of one of the five following reasons:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political Opinion
  • Association with a particular social group


If you are interested in applying for your permanent resident card through your family, your job, or refugee or asylum status, Zohar Law can help. We are an experienced, full-service immigration law firm in NYC and are here to help you apply for immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, green cards, and U.S. citizenship. Contact us today to learn more.