A Green Card (permanent resident card) gives the holder of the card, a legal permanent resident, authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. If the immigrant is already in the United States when applying for the Green Card and legal permanent residency, the process is called “adjustment of status”. One can become a permanent resident in several ways. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or an employer in the United States.

 Benefits of a Green Card:

  • Legal permanent residency in the United States, including the right to work
  • Freedom to travel abroad for less than 6 months and return to the United States (traveling abroad for more than 6 months is possible under certain circumstances)
  • Possibility to petition for a Green Card for qualifying family members
  • Eligibility to apply for United States citizenship, usually after holding a Green Card and living in the United States continuously for 5 years
  • Eligibility for public benefits such as social security or retirement benefits


There are many ways to obtain a Green Card. However, the most common ways to obtain a Green Card are through family, through a job, or through refugee/asylee status.


dapa spanish family immigrationGreen Card through Family / Marriage

A person can obtain a Green Card through his or her relationship to a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident.Obtaining a permanent residence Green Card through marriage often is the fastest way to obtain residency in the United States. However, the process can be complicated and can be delayed if not properly filed, and approval is not guaranteed or automatic.

Relatives of United States citizens:

Relatives of Legal Permanent Residents:

Visas always available for:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children (under the age of 21)
  • Unmarried stepchildren (under the age of 21)
  • Unmarried adopted children (under the age of 18)
  • Parent or stepparent (if the United States citizen is over the age of 21)

Visas available with waiting times for:

  • Unmarried children (over the age of 21)
  • Married children (any age)
  • Brother or sister (if the United States citizen is over the age of 21)
Visas available with waiting times for:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children (any age)
  • Unmarried stepchildren (any age)
  • Unmarried adopted children (any age)


Immigration carefully examines these petitions to ensure that the marriage is legitimate and not entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. The immigration attorneys at the Cruz Law Office have helped countless couples obtain Green Cards.


Green Card through a Jobcanstockphoto4836332

Next to obtaining a Green Card through family, it is also possible to obtain it through employment. There are several ways to obtain a Green Card through employment by someone else or through self-employment:

  • employers can petition for a Green Card on behalf of an employee
  • certain immigrants with special abilities, such as researchers, artists, or athletes, can petition for themselves
  • certain investors or entrepreneurs who create jobs can apply
  • certain immigrants in special job categories are eligible
Green Card through Asylee/Refugee Status

Furthermore, immigrants who seek international protection have the opportunity or obligation to apply for a Green Card:

  • refugees are required to apply 1 year after entering the United States
  • asylees can apply after being granted asylum for 1 year

To find out if and how you can apply for a Green Card, call our immigration attorneys at The Cruz Law Office at (619) 717-2233 today.

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Legal Disclaimer: Nothing in this website should be taken as legal advice for an individual case or situation. The information is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation.