Green Card Eligibility: Immigration Lawyer in Cambridge Reviews the Basics


A potential immigrant may be eligible for a green card through family, a job, refugee or asylum status, or other special provisions. An immigration lawyer in Cambridge  can advise you regarding your eligibility. To obtain a green card, you must be in one of the following categories:


A US citizen may sponsor a relative for a green card.   The sponsor must file a petition proving his or her relationship with the relative and must be able to prove he or she can support the relative, which generally accomplished by filing an Affidavit of Support.  Once the petition is approved, the relative will need to obtain an immigration visa.

An unlimited number of visas are available for immediate relatives of US citizens. Immediate relatives include:

  • Parents of a US citizen (you must be at least 21 years old to apply for your parents).
  • Spouses of a US citizen.
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21 of a US citizen.

A limited number of visas are available for other relatives of a US citizen and these relatives will have to wait for a visa to become available. A permanent resident may also sponsor certain relatives for a green card.  These relatives will also need to wait for a visa to become available.


People who want to become permanent legal residents based on employment or a job offer may apply for permanent residence or an immigrant visa abroad, when an immigrant visa number becomes available according to the following employment based preferences:

  • First preference: Priority workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
  • Second preference: Members of professions holding an advanced degree or persons of exceptional ability.
  • Third preference: Skilled workers, professionals, and other qualified workers.
  • Fourth preference: Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations.
  • Fifth preference: Employment-creation immigrants (investors or entrepreneurs).

Refugee or asylum status

If you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or as the qualifying spouse or child of a refugee, you must apply for a green card one year after your entry into the United States. If you were granted asylum in the United States or are a qualifying spouse or child of a person who was granted asylum, you may apply for permanent residence one year after the grant of your asylum status.

Other ways

Although, the vast majority of immigrants obtain a green card through a family member or employment, there are many other ways to get a green card, including being a Haitian refugee, a victim of trafficking, or an Amerasian child of a U.S. citizen.

General admissibility to the U.S.

Everyone applying for an immigrant visa must prove to the satisfaction of the USCIS that they are eligible for admission to the United States. Inadmissibility may be based on such grounds as having a communicable disease, or an extensive criminal background, or national security issues.

Contact us

For the best advice about your immigration issues, contact an immigration lawyer in Cambridge at Ionson Law by calling (781) 674-2562 to arrange a free consultation.

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