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Everything You Should Know About Green Card Categories

 Would you like to know what your green card category code means? We’ve assembled this complete list of green card categories to help!

What Are Green Card Category Codes?

.A green card, sometimes referred to as a permanent resident card, allows a non-U.S. citizen to obtain permanent residence in the United States. The green card category codes are used to describe the immigrant visa category used to admit an immigrant to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident or conditional permanent resident.

The US issues green cards annually in different categories. Applicants can apply under one of these categories for a green card that grants them lawful permanent resident status. An immigrant wanting to become a lawful permanent resident can apply under the following categories based on their eligibility criteria. Each category has a separate process and deadline for application, and sometimes you may need the help of an experienced immigration lawyer to get through.


Employment-Based Green cards


Under this category, there are EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 green cards. Usually, to become a green card holder in this category, an employer who is a U.S. citizen has to sponsor your Green Card if they’re willing. It’s a multi-step, fee-based process.

EB-1: First Preference Workers

This green card is for employees with extraordinary ability in science, arts, education, business, or athletics, professors, researchers, etc. For instance, an outstanding professor, medical doctor, or athlete with exceptional ability in their sport may become a green card holder via this route.

It also includes US-based international organization managers and executives who transfer to the US (Company transfer L-1 holders). Workers in the EB-1 category are called priority workers and get first preference. However, the visa category for a spouse of a priority worker classified as EB-1 would be different.


EB-2: Second Preference Workers

The EB-2 category of green cards is for scientists, artists, and business professionals with advanced degrees or at least master’s degrees. For instance, an advanced degree like a PhD could qualify people to get green cards in this category. A skilled worker with a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of relevant experience may also qualify for this green card category.


EB-3: Third Preference Workers

EB-3 visas are for immigrants with bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees. You can also apply under this category if you have two years of experience or are an exceptionally skilled worker. Other workers applying for unskilled jobs may apply under this category. However, a worker performing unskilled labor must demonstrate their ability to perform unskilled labor that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature by, for example, having less than two years of training or experience. In addition, qualified workers can not compete with available qualified workers in the U.S. This category of workers is referred to as 3rd preference workers.

Other Green Card Options

Special Immigrants

Green card holders in this category are usually either religious workers or Afghan nationals. You may also apply if you are:

  • An employee of an international organization
  • Special immigrant juvenile
  • International broadcaster
  • A worker in an official government organization


Marriage-Based and Family-Based Green Cards

In terms of this family-based green card, your immediate relatives who are US citizens or permanent residents can sponsor your green card. The term immediate relative refers to your family members, including your spouse, unmarried son or daughter, parents, and siblings.

The person sponsoring their immediate relative must meet certain conditions set by the US citizenship and immigration services. The requirements are as follows:

  • They need to be a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident with proof of residency.
  • The sponsor’s annual income must be at least 125 percent above their state’s poverty line.
  • They must also prove that the family members won’t be a burden.
  • The sponsor must prove their relationship with the immigrant.

Similarly, to qualify to become a lawful permanent resident based on a family relationship, the foreign national must meet these requirements:

  • Your relative must be a US citizen or green card holder who is willing to complete Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for you.
  • Your relative must show that their income is 125 percent above the poverty line and sufficient to support you and all other sponsored family members.
  • You can prove you won’t be a public charge and rely on the state.
  • Show that you’re related to your sponsor.

You might need the services of a family immigration attorney to understand your legal options when filing green card petitions. Contact one today!


Green Card Investment

The EB-5 green card also called the immigrant investor program, allows foreign investors to obtain permanent US residency.

trustworthy immigration attorney can assist with the EB-5 visa application process, documentation requirements, and eligibility.


Visa Lottery

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the green card lottery, diversity visa lottery, or DV lottery, allots about 50,000 green cards to underrepresented countries in the US each year. Through the green card lottery, low-immigration countries can obtain immigrant visas.

Usually, the lottery is only open to people from countries that meet the diversity visa lottery requirements. From October to November, a computer-generated system randomly selects DV applicants. A winner can then apply to become a permanent resident.


Asylum/Refugee Green Card

People who fear persecution or are victims of human trafficking, abuse, or crime may be eligible for asylum in the US. If qualified, they’ll get a renewable green card. For instance, under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA), Haitian immigrants with asylum or refugee status in the US for at least one year can apply for a green card.

However, victims of human trafficking, abuse, or crime may have to meet eligibility requirements to qualify for a permanent resident card. The victim’s parents, siblings, children, and spouse may also be eligible as long as both relatives and the victim satisfy the necessary requirements. For example, a crime victim application has to be certified by a law enforcement agency. Human trafficking victims must help investigate and prosecute perpetrators unless they are younger than 18. Domestic violence victims may apply for a permanent resident card that would let them seek relief through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Procedure to Change Categories of Approved Green Cards

You may be able to file an I-140 amendment if you are staying with your current employer and your job title and description are only slightly changing. This will ensure that USCIS has the most up-to-date information on your case.

However, if you change employers entirely after filing the I-140 during the green card process, that employer will need to file a new one. Your new employer will also need to obtain a new permanent labor certification if your green card requires one.


USCIS Green Card Processing Times for Different Categories


The timelines for green card applications vary depending on the visa type and are subject to country caps. The previous years’ trends are available using the US citizenship and immigration services processing time data. The USCIS fiscal years run from October 1 of the prior year to September 30 of the year described. For example, the 2021 fiscal year (FY) spans from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021.

You can estimate the duration of your immigrant visa application using the historical trends.

Atlanta US Green Card Immigration Lawyer

Green cards come in a variety of categories that can be confusing. Your immigration process is stressful enough without dealing with tons of paperwork and the fear of making costly mistakes.

Contact our immigration group today for legal counsel and assistance regarding immigration obtaining visas. We have extensive knowledge in all matters of immigration. Aside from helping our clients obtain immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas, we also advise them on a number of important issues so that they stay on top of their immigration affairs. Contact the Do Law Office today to schedule a consultation. Let us DO the heavy lifting for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Green Card Category Matter?

Yes, the category on your green card determines the type of job you can do as a lawful permanent resident. Usually, the USCIS grants green cards if the employee accepts a permanent job. However, permanent doesn’t necessarily mean forever or until retirement. Immigration-wise, “permanent” means “indefinitely.” At the time of approval, the law assumes the employee plans to stay indefinitely.

Changing jobs before receiving your visa can cause eligibility problems for certain visas. USCIS does not require notification of job changes for green card holders and EB-1A and EB-5 applicants whose visas do not depend on their positions. 


Can I Apply For Multiple Green Cards at the Same Time?

You can apply for multiple green cards in more than one employment category at the same time. However, this isn’t always a good idea because it is risky. If a previous green card application you filed is denied, your subsequent applications may also be denied.

Ensure that you consult with an immigration attorney before filing your green card application. 

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