Individuals may generally seek permanent residence (aka a green card) in the U.S. based on family-sponsorship, employment-based sponsorship, or under the diversity visa program.


  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents may sponsor certain close family members for a green card.
  • Immediate relatives: Spouses of U.S. citizens, along with their children (under 21) and parents, receive special treatment.
  • Preference categories: Other relatives of U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be subject to processing backlogs.

More: TN → Green card based on marriage to U.S. citizen.


  • Employers may sponsor certain employees for a green card under 4 categories (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, and EB-4).
  • Some individuals may self-petition for a green card under the EB-1 or EB-2 categories.
  • Individuals may also obtain a green card through the EB-5 investment program.


Diversity Visa

  • Individuals born in certain countries may apply for a green card through the government's annual lottery process.