Becoming a Permanent United States Resident

There are four possible ways to become a permanent resident of the United States. They are through: (1) Family Based Immigration; (2) Employment Based Immigration; (3) Diversity Lottery Program and (3): Refugee or Asylee.

Family Based Immigration

United States immigration laws permit certain individuals to become permanent residents through selective family relationships. Per US immigration laws, citizens and permanent residents may sponsor certain relatives to become permanent residents of the United States. The categories for sponsorship includes spouse and unmarried children of US citizens and permanent residents as well as parents, siblings and married sons and daughters (over 21) of US citizens.

Categories of Family Based Immigration

  • Immediate Relatives: Minor unmarried children, spouse and parents of United States Citizens. Immediate relatives are exempt from the numerical quotas for the issuance of immigrant visas.
  • Family First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of United States Citizens. Daughters and sons are defined as adults over the age of 21.
  • Family Second Preference: (1) spouses and unmarried minor children of lawful permanent residents; (2) unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
  • Family Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of United State Citizens.
  • Family fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters on United State Citizens.

Employment Based Immigration

United States immigration laws permit certain individuals to gain permanent residency status through employment. As should be expected, not all foreign workers will qualify for permanent residence in the United States through employment base immigration. There are limitations on the country of citizenship of the worker, plus the employer must show that there is a shortage of US workers for that particular job. However, individuals with advanced degrees tend to have an advantage in this area. Unless exempt, the process of employment based immigration involves labor certification application process.

The below individuals are exempt from the labor certification process:

  • Certain religious workers.
  • Outstanding researchers and professors who are internationally recognized in a specific academic area and who has at least three years of research or teaching experience.
  • Immigrant investors.
  • Foreigners with extra-ordinary skills in their respective fields.
  • Foreigners with exception ability in science, arts, education business and athletics.
  • Foreigners who work in the national interest of the United States.
  • Treaty Investors.


US Immigration laws permit certain individuals who are considered refugees to gain permanent residency in the United States. A refugee is a person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

Refugee status is sought outside of the United States and the corresponding aslyee status is sought within one year of arrival to the United States. As expected, only individuals from certain countries will be allowed to gain permanent residence status though asylum. As defined above, such individuals must show that they are filing for permanent status in the United States as there is a well-founded fear of being persecuted in his/her home country.

Diversity Lottery Program

United States immigration laws permit certain individuals to gain permanent residency status through the Diversity Lottery Program. This program annually awards permanent residence status to 55,000 individual who win in the DV lottery system. However, only nationals from specific countries are eligible for the DV program. Individuals from qualifying countries must submit an application and a digital photograph within the specified time set by the Department of State.

Contact our office immediately if you or a family member would like to become a permanent United States resident. You may call one of our experienced immigration lawyers on toll free at (800) 230-0744.

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