For those who do not fall into an employment based immigration program or based on a family visa, there are other ways in which you may immigrate.
Immigration through Special Categories of Family
You may be able to become a Lawful Permanent Resident through a special family situation. These adjustment of status programs are limited to individuals who meet particular qualifications and/or apply during certain time frames. These categories are as follows:
- Battered Spouse or Child (VAWA) – As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA allows certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of Lawful Permanent Residents to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.
- Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) Status – The purpose of the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status program is to help foreign children in the United States who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. A state court in the United States must decide that you are a dependent of the court, a state agency, a private agency, or a private person and that it is not in your best interest to return you to your home country and that you cannot be reunited with a parent because of abuse, abandonment, neglect or any similar reason under State law. Children who get a green card through the SIJ program can live and work permanently in the United States. They can never apply for a visa or green card for their parents, but can apply for their brothers and sisters once they become a U.S. Citizen.
- Fiancé (K-Visa) – The K-visa categories are for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their accompanying minor children (K-1 and K-2 visas) to enable them to come to the U.S. and marry their USC fiancé.
- Person Born to a Foreign Diplomat – A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States is not subject to the jurisdiction of United States law. Therefore, that person cannot be considered a U.S. citizen at birth. You may, however, be considered a permanent resident at birth and able to receive a green card. Your parents’ diplomatic accredited title must be listed in the State Department Diplomatic List, also known as the Blue List. This list includes ambassadors, ministers charges d’affaires, counselors, secretaries and attaches of embassies and legations, and members of the Delegation of the Commission of the European Communities.
- V Nonimmigrant – V nonimmigrant category that allow the spouse or child of a permanent resident to live and work in the United States while waiting to obtain immigrant status. To qualify for a V visa, the spouse or child of the permanent resident needs a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed on their behalf on or before December 21, 2000 by the permanent resident relative. The spouse or child also must have been waiting for at least 3 years after the form was filed for their immigrant status—either because a visa number was not available or because the Form I-130 or Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status had not yet been adjudicated.
- Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen – Widows or widowers who were married to U.S. citizens at the time of the citizen’s death may apply for a green card. To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove that you were legally married to the citizen, and that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.
Other programs include the following ways to qualify for a visa:
- Victim of Criminal Activity (U Nonimmigrant) – victims
of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
- Victim of Trafficking (T Nonimmigrant) – provides immigration protection to victims of severe forms of human trafficking. The T visa also allows victims to remain in the United States and assist federal authorities in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases.
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program – ‘Green Card Lottery’ – The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program can have up to 50,000 immigrant visas available each year and is drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
- Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act – The Life Act enables certain individuals who are present in the United States who would not normally qualify to apply for adjustment of status in the United States to become a Lawful Permanent Resident, obtain a green card (permanent residence) regardless of how they entered the U.S., unauthorized work history or failure to maintain lawful status in the U.S.To qualify for this provision, you must be:
- The beneficiary of a labor certification application (Form ETA 750) or immigrant visa petition (Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative or I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker); and
- It was filed on or before April 30, 2001;
- Were physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000, if you are the principal beneficiary and the petition was filed between January 15, 1998, and April 30, 2001;
- Currently the beneficiary of a qualifying immigrant petition (either the original Form I-130 or I-140 through which you are grandfathered or through a subsequently filed immigrant petition);
- Have a visa immediately available to you; and
- be admissible to the United States.
- Afghan/Iraq Translator – An Afghan or Iraqi translator who has served the U.S. government may apply for a special immigrant visa.
- Afghan who assisted the U.S. Government – Afghan nationals who have been employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan on or after October 7th, 2001, for a period of not less than 1 year may be eligible to become Lawful Permanent Residents.
- Iraqi who assisted the U.S. Government – Iraqi nationals who have been employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, for a period of not less than 1 year may apply for a special immigrant visa.
- Armed Forces Member – Certain individuals who served (or are serving) honorably on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces after October 15, 1978 and who, after original lawful enlistment outside the United States, served for a certain period of time through a treaty or agreement that was in effect on October 1, 1991, are authorized to get a green card (permanent residence).
- Nato – 6 Nonimmigrant – Certain individuals who entered the United States in NATO-6 nonimmigrant status (civilian NATO employees and their unmarried sons and daughters) are eligible to become Lawful Permanent Residents.
- International Organization Employee – certain long-term international organization employees and their eligible family members to apply for special immigrant status and become Lawful Permanent Residents as long as their organization remains recognized. Examples of recognized international organizations include foreign missions such as embassies, consulates, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT), and other international organizations.
- Religious Worker
- Amerasian Child of a U.S. Citizen
- Informant (S Nonimmigrant)
- American Indian Born in Canada
- Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act
- Cuban Native or Citizen
- Lautenberg Parolee
- Haitian Refugee
- Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA)
- Help HAITI Act of 2010