This publication explains how to get green card in USA without marriage, and there are a variety of ways to do so as a foreign national. You also become a permanent resident and work there.
Getting a U.S. green card through marriage may take, according to Herman Legal Group, anywhere between 7-15 months. This depends on different situations after meeting the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS requirements. Other green card alternatives mentioned in this publication may take shorter or even longer depending on the category.
How to get green card in the USA without marriage
Getting a green card in the U.S. through marriage is quite a common way of becoming a permanent resident. However, you may not have marriage ties to U.S. citizens as an immigrant, so you get to explore other opportunities.
You can apply for an O-1 Visa (Alien of Extra Ordinary Ability also known as Genius Visa). This is a hard-to-get visa but when you demonstrate extraordinary ability in any field, including arts, sciences, education, business, television industry, or athletics, you get the green card.
In this category, there are O-1A, O-1B, O-2, and O-3 visas.
- O-1A. You could use this avenue to obtain US green card without marriage if you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.
- O-1B. This is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the television or motion picture industry.
- O-2. You can get the O-1 visa if you accompany an O-1 artist or athlete in their event.
- O-3. The O-3 is for you if you are the spouse or child of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.
You need an attorney specialized in O-1s to help you gather and streamline the process. You would typically get a response within 2 weeks but you have to pay more for express.
O-1 is valid for 3 years but you can have several O-1s at the same time, plus renewing endlessly.
The trick here is that an O-1 visa qualifies you to sponsor your green card.
You do this by using the same attorney from your first application to be able to re-use 80% of your O-1 files. Start the green card process and expect an answer in the next 2 to 3 months.
Using an O-1 does not require you to have an employer sponsor your green card. Unfortunately, this visa is not for everyone but works most of the time than others.
Employment-based green card
Under employment-based visas, there are EB-1 (first preference), EB-2 (second preference), EB-3 (third preference), and EB-4 (fourth preference).
- EB-1. You can apply for this visa if you are an outstanding professor or researcher, or a manager or multinational executive. Each of these categories has unique requirements.
- EB-2. Apply for this visa if you hold an advanced degree or its equivalent.
- EB-3. This visa is for you if you are a skilled worker, with a minimum of 2 years of training or experience, a professional, or someone with unskilled labor (this requires less than 2 years of training or experience).
- EB-4. You can use an EB-4 visa for a Green Card in the US instead of marriage if you are a religious worker, special immigrant juvenile, certain broadcaster, member of the US armed forces, a physician licensed in the US, Afghan/Iraqi translator, and US-employed Afghans.
The various subcategories each have specific requirements ranging from possessing extraordinary skills or advanced degrees to skilled and unskilled workers.
The US issues thousands of employment-based green cards to foreign nationals every year. You could use this category instead of marriage if you have job offers from an employer in the USA. However, your employer or prospective employer gets to sponsor your green card. ‘Sponsoring’ means that your employer files the petition on your behalf.
If you received a job offer or already work for a US employer, file for an employment-based visa. Even if you are a foreign national or US-based.
Investment-based green card
This is known as EB-5 (Immigrant Investor Program), which you can use to obtain a green card in the USA without marriage. Your spouse and unmarried children (under 21) can use this card for permanent residence as well.
To be able to use EB-5 for the green card, you must:
- Make necessary investments in a commercial enterprise in the US.
- Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs in the US.
However, EB-5 requires a standard minimum investment amount of $1 million or $500,000 investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). This could be your best shot at a green card in the US without marrying anyone if you have the money.
Diversity immigrant visa program
The diversity immigrant visa program makes up 50,000 of the immigrant visas available in the US each year. However, successful applications are selected randomly. Note that this program is only open to people from countries with low rates of immigration into the US.
This is a lottery visa mostly luckily won by people not residing in the US. When you win it, you immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa to become a permanent resident in the US. You can start your application via the website of the U.S. Department of State.
Steps to apply for your green card without marriage
The steps to apply for a Green Card without marriage varies in requirement and steps. However, this section of the publication covers the general processes and procedures to help you apply for any of the Green Cards while in the US in the United States (known as adjustment of status) or while outside the US (known as consular processing).
Obtain your visa
You need a visa to be able to apply for a Green Card. Visas are readily available in some Green Card categories but not in some, such as the diversity immigrant visa.
You will be given priority dates as an immigrant waiting in line to obtain an immigrant visa and determine a visa is available.
Read also: How U.S. citizens hide from debt
While you obtain a visa, find out if and when you can travel out of the US after applying for a Green Card. You can always apply for advance parole, a Refugee Travel Document, and a re-entry permit.
You also want to check if you qualify for work authorization in the US, as well as the steps to apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document). Most of the time, you are required to pass a medical exam.
Determine the category you are eligible for
First, find out if you are eligible for permanent resident status. Carefully check the eligibility requirements for the category you belong to know what you need to apply.
Comment your Green Card category below to get the correct and up-to-date requirements from us.
Start the process to change your status
There are 2 ways about this:
- Adjust your status. If you are currently in the US, you will be adjusting your status to a permanent resident to get the Green Card using a non-marital category.
- Consular processing. If you are currently outside the US, you begin your consular processing. This method is designed for immigrants who live outside the US and need a US Green Card. You also use this method if you are not eligible to “adjust your status”.
Complete concurrent filing
If you are getting a Green Card through employment, family, or as a special immigrant, you may be required to have someone in the US file a petition for you. Some other categories do not require concurrent filing at all.
Concurrent filing generally means your petition is filed at the same time you file your application to get a Green Card.
A concurrent file is used by the US government to know whether you have the financial means to live in the United States without depending on the welfare or financial benefits of the government.
The US requires you to prove that you will not become a public charge. A public charge refers to someone who will depend on the US government after gaining an immigration charge.
Unfortunately, the US public charge rule may deny visas or entry to people with disabilities or insufficient money.
How to track your Green Card, Employment Authorization Document and travel document
- First, sign up for a Case Status Online for automatic case updates, including your U.S. Postal Service (USPS) tracking number when you are mailed your card or travel document.
- Also, register for Informed Delivery through USPS so that you can receive daily images of mail sent to you. Informed Delivery allows you to automatically track your packages.
Contact your local post office immediately if you have not received your package but the USPS tracking information indicates that it was delivered.
Have in mind that your card or travel document is mailed to the address you provide on your application. You can also have your card or document mailed to your representative on Notice of Entry or Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28).
Ensure to update your address with USCIS and USPS if it changes after filing your application. This prevents delays or lost documents, and you may have to reapply and pay the fees again.
You can use the USPS Look Up a ZIP Code tool to know your correct address.
Can you transfer from marriage visa to another category?
You can transfer from a marriage visa to another category if you recently signed up for a marriage visa to get a Green Card in the US.
You will have to submit a written request to the USCIS office to transfer your pending adjustment of status application to a different category. Ensure to give your reasons. You can find sample letter templates online to guide you to write yours properly.
The age factor
Age can determine eligibility for a Green Card without marriage. The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) allows certain children who are aged out of 21 (or older) after an immigrant petition has been filed to still be eligible for a Green Card through their parents.
Get an experienced immigration attorney
It is best to speak to a professional immigration attorney if you are trying to get an American Green Card without marriage, and do not know where to start.
The Green Card without marriage can sometimes be complicated for foreign national applicants. Visas in employment-based and other immigrant visa categories are often highly scrutinized by immigration officers.
So, get an immigration lawyer to help you file and acquire a U.S.A Green Card without marriage. An attorney will also give you the best legal advice and services.