U.S. Law Center

What are the green card eligibility categories?

There are many diverse paths to citizenship for people living outside of the U.S. To obtain a green card, which allows permanent legal residency, you must fit into one of the eligibility categories. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains a few of these categories so you can make a determination about your future. 

Green card as a special immigrant

Along with receiving a green card for employment or as a result of being sponsored by a family member, a person can also receive a green card due to special circumstances. People belonging to certain religions may be accepted into this country to work for a nonprofit organization associated with that religion. Broadcasters and those employed by foreign news services may also be permitted into this country to work for an American media company. Juveniles who are estranged from parents due to abuse or neglect, member of certain organizations (such as NATO), and Afghan or Iraqi nationals may also receive green cards under certain circumstances. 

Green card for victims of abuse

Victims of abuse also have avenues to achieve permanent legal residency. In this case, you must the victim of abuse or extreme cruelty committed by a person who is a U.S. citizen and is your current or former spouse, parent, or child. Victims of abuse from lawful permanent residents who are a spouse or parent may also be eligible. 

Green card through other categories

There are other circumstances you should be aware of so you can determine your eligibility. The Cuban Adjustment Act stipulates that Cuban citizens, their spouses, and children are eligible for green cards, provided they meet other criteria. Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents who received green cards due to the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act are also eligible. Other categories include Lautenberg parolees, American Indians born in Canada, and foreign diplomats who are unable to return to their home countries. 

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