Introduction to United States Immigration
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Permanent Residence Green Card Overview

Permanent residence enables you and your immediate family to live and work in the United States for the rest of your lives. Most people obtain green cards by being sponsored by their employers or their relatives. Other people obtain permanent residence through the green card lottery, through asylum and through various other means. Many people do not make a distinction between permanent residence (Green Card) and citizenship. Citizenship can be obtained by a permanent resident usually after five (5) years or sometimes less or in some instances. Citizenship is obtained by birth or naturalization. Through Relatives The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on the relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. To be eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States you must meet the following criteria:You must be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States and be able to provide documentation proving your status and you must prove that you can support your relative. Family-based immigration is either unrestricted or conditioned by a preference system. Unrestricted Family Immigrants include: Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens: The spouse, widow (er) and unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen, and the parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older. Returning Residents: Immigrants who lived in the United States previously as lawful permanent residents and are returning to live in the U.S. after a temporary visit of more than one year abroad.