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Eligibility to Migrate

Have you ever wondered if there is any way you could immigrate to the United States? Here are some very broad and general grounds under which this may be possible. If you feel you fall under any of these and would require your case to be specifically studied, please contact an Immigration lawyer.

If your son or daughter, over the age of 21, were a U.S. citizen then you would qualify as an immediate relative and be eligible for a green card.

If your mother or father has U.S. citizenship, regardless of whether you are a minor or over the age of 21, you would be eligible. Even if you are married, you and your spouse and children would be eligible but in a lower preference category and so would have to wait a longer time to get admission.

If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, once again you would qualify as an immediate relative and be eligible for a green card once your petition was approved.

If you are the fiancé of a U.S. citizen, you would be eligible to enter on a special fiancé visa and, provided you got married within 90 days of entry, you would be eligible for a 2 year conditional green card. (See Fiancé)

If you are the spouse of a Green Card holder you would be eligible. Your unmarried or minor children would also be eligible. So also would the unmarried and minor children of a Green Card holder. But be prepared for a long wait apart.

If you have a brother or sister who is a U.S. citizen you would be eligible. Again, so too would your spouse and minor children.

The waiting period for all these family sponsored petitions is often many years and even if you are eligible on the basis of any of the above family relationships you must be prepared for a long and, often, frustrating wait. (See Family Based Immigration.)

Please note that a Green Card Holder cannot sponsor parents, brothers, sisters or even his/her own married children. Only a U.S. Citizen can. (See Green Cards) 

Family relations are not your only hope of entry. You could also get a green card if you have a U.S. based employer who would be willing to sponsor you for a job. (See Employment Based Immigration) The process is lengthy and complex and again you could have to wait many years before all approvals are obtained. Outstanding researchers and professors with job offers from a U.S. employer, as well as managers or executives of multinational companies, who may need to be transferred, have an easier route of entry. (See Employment Based First Preference – Priority Workers)

A special category exists for persons of ‘extraordinary ability’. If you feel you have some national or international recognition in a particular field (arts, science, business education, athletics etc) which would give you a chance to be recognized by the U.S. authorities as someone who ‘has reached the very top of his field’ then you might fall under these provisions of the law and be eligible to obtain a green card even without a job offer. (See Extraordinary Ability)

Not to be forgotten is the category for persons willing to invest, as capital, a minimum of $500,000 in any business in a declared ‘economically depressed’ area in the U.S. and hire at least 10 employees OR $ 1,000,000 in any business in other areas in the U.S. and hire at least 10 employees (not including family members). (See Investment Based Immigration)

Often, the easiest route for entry is on an H-1B nonimmigrant work visa. If you are a professional, with at least a Bachelor’s degree in a specified field and have a job offer from a U.S. based company for a professional position, you could be eligible to obtain an approval for an H-1B visa. As an H-1B visa holder you would be legally permitted to remain in the U.S. with your sponsoring employer for a maximum period of 6 years, during which time you would also be legally permitted to change your status from nonimmigrant to immigrant, provided, of course, your employer agrees to sponsor you for a green card. During this time you could also conceivably get married, (see marriage) though this would entitle you to a conditional green card for the first two years of your marriage, after which you would need to apply to remove the condition and confirm to USCIS that the marriage was genuine and not a sham. (See H-1B Visas)

For more details and explanations of the law, please check the links provided.


The information in this article is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship between Jethmalani & Nallaseth and the viewer.