Getting Permanent Residency in the US: A Complete Guide for 2024

Many people want to be able to get permanent residency in the United States, but it may be a complicated procedure to navigate. Recognizing the many routes and standards is crucial, regardless of your motivation—to join a family, seek work, or just make the United States your permanent home. You will be guided through all of the necessary procedures and factors in this in-depth guide to obtain permanent residency in the United States in 2024.

1. Family-Based Green Cards

One of the most common routes to permanent residency is through family-based sponsorship. US citizens and lawful permanent residents can petition for their immediate relatives, such as spouses, parents, unmarried children under 21, and in some cases, siblings. The application process involves submitting various forms, providing supporting documentation, and attending an interview with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is important to note that visa availability and processing times can vary depending on the category and country of origin.

2. Employment-Based Green Cards

There are various visa categories to take into consideration for people who want to live in the country permanently through employment. These consist of the EB-1 visa for persons with exceptional ability, the EB-2 and EB-3 visas for professionals and skilled workers, and the EB-5 investment visa. There are regulations specific to each category, such as labor certification procedures, employment offers, and minimum investment levels. Having a skilled immigration attorney’s aid is often necessary when navigating these intricate roads.

3. Diversity Visa Lottery

An annual program called the Diversity Visa Lottery, popularly referred to as the “Green Card Lottery,” awards a restricted number of permanent residence visas to citizens of nations having low immigration rates to the United States. A random selection method determines eligibility, and those who are selected must fulfill specific standards related to education or work experience. For people looking for permanent residency, the Diversity Visa Lottery is still a popular choice even if the odds of being chosen are not very high.

4. Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Individuals who have been granted refugee or asylum status in the United States may be eligible to apply for permanent residency, also known as a Green Card, after meeting certain criteria. This pathway to permanent residency is an important option for those who have fled their home countries due to persecution, war, or other life-threatening situations.

5. Refugee Status

Refugees are individuals who have been forced to flee their home countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. To be eligible for refugee status, an individual must apply for and be granted refugee status while outside the United States. Once granted refugee status, individuals may be eligible to apply for permanent residency after maintaining their status for at least one year and demonstrating continuous physical presence in the country.

Asylum Status

Asylum status is similar to refugee status, but the application process takes place while the individual is already in the United States or at a port of entry. Asylum seekers must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country based on the same criteria as refugees. If granted asylum, individuals may be eligible to apply for permanent residency after maintaining their status for at least one year and demonstrating continuous physical presence in the United States.

Application Process for Permanent Residency

The application process for permanent residency for individuals with refugee or asylum status involves several steps:

  1. Maintain Status: Applicants must have maintained their refugee or asylum status for at least one year and have been physically present in the United States for that entire period.
  2. File Form I-485: Applicants must submit the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  3. Provide Supporting Documents: Applicants must submit various supporting documents, such as a copy of their refugee or asylum approval notice, proof of continuous physical presence, and evidence of their eligibility for permanent residency.
  4. Attend Interview: Applicants may be required to attend an in-person interview with a USCIS officer to review their application and supporting documents.
  5. Receive Decision: USCIS will review the application and make a decision. If approved, the applicant will receive their Green Card, which grants them permanent residency in the United States.

The timeline for processing refugee and asylum-based permanent residency applications can vary, and it is important to be aware of the current processing times and any changes in the requirements or procedures.

6. Permanent Residency Through Investment (EB-5)

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program offers a pathway to permanent residency for individuals who invest a substantial amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States and create or preserve a minimum number of jobs for U.S. workers.

7. Military-Based Permanent Residency

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as their spouses and children, may be eligible for permanent residency through their military service. This includes both active-duty personnel and those who have been honorably discharged.

8. Permanent Residency for Victims of Certain Crimes

Individuals who have been victims of certain crimes, such as domestic violence, trafficking, or other qualifying offenses, may be eligible for permanent residency through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or the Victim of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

9. Permanent Residency for Cuban Nationals

Cuban nationals may be eligible for permanent residency through the Cuban Adjustment Act, which provides a specific pathway for individuals who have been physically present in the United States for at least one year.

10. Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

Depending on an individual’s current immigration status and location, the process for obtaining permanent residency may involve either an adjustment of status or consular processing. Adjustment of status is the process of applying for a green card while already in the United States, while consular processing involves applying for a green card at a US embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country. Each option has its own set of requirements and considerations, and it is essential to carefully evaluate the appropriate pathway.

11. Maintaining Permanent Residency

Once you have obtained your green card, it is crucial to understand the responsibilities and requirements associated with maintaining your permanent residency status. This includes regularly renewing your green card, avoiding extended absences from the United States, and complying with applicable laws and regulations. Failure to meet these obligations could potentially lead to the revocation of your permanent residency.


For many individuals and families, obtaining permanent status in the United States represents a major accomplishment. You can navigate the system more skillfully and improve your chances of success by being aware of the several pathways, prerequisites, and subtleties of the process.

Always remember to consult with knowledgeable immigration professionals, keep abreast of recent policy developments, and be ready to handle the intricacies of the immigration system. You can fulfill your desire to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States if you are determined and have a good understanding of the procedure.

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