One of the more commonly sought immigration services is help attaining permanent residency in the U.S. If you're planning to talk with an attorney at an immigration law firm, it can be helpful to learn what the potential options might be. Let's explore six ways you may achieve permanent resident status.

Family or Marital Connections

The simplest route to residency is to obtain a green card by being the spouse of a U.S. citizen. A fiancé of a citizen may apply for a green card, but only after seeking a non-immigrant visa. Widows and widowers of deceased U.S. citizens can also petition.

Unmarried children of U.S. citizens below the age of 21 may seek residency, as may some close family members of citizens. This includes sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. A fiancé's child is allowed to apply, too.


Folks deemed to have extraordinary skills in science, art, business, or athletics are allowed to apply. This includes professors and researchers. Also, managers for multinational corporations can usually transfer by seeking permanent residency, although individuals seeking shorter stays may want to explore less complex visas. Some people are also allowed to apply on the basis of filling skills that are unavailable in the current pool of U.S. workers.


The EB-5 program offers people a chance to attain permanent residency by investing in the U.S. economy. Investing options break into two broad categories. Those investing in so-called targeted employment areas must make minimum investments of $900,000, while people investing elsewhere must make investments of at least $1.8 million. These figures are subject to occasional inflation adjustments, so you should always check with an immigration law firm to learn what the current figures are.

Victims of Abuse, Crime, or Human Trafficking

Victims of abuse involving U.S. citizens or permanent residents may petition for consideration. There are also carve-outs for cases involving Cuban nationals. Crime victims can apply for green cards after obtaining U nonimmigrant visas, and human trafficking victims may do so after acquiring T nonimmigrant visas.

Diversity Lottery

The U.S. sponsors a lottery each year that allows people from underrepresented nations to apply for green cards. The number of allowed immigrants may change from year to year, as may the list of countries that are considered underrepresented.

Special Cases

Additional options exist for many special cases, such as the resettlement of refugees from certain countries. Similarly, some parolees from oppressive regimes may seek residency in the U.S.