The article discusses how to get a green card in USA without marriage. For many people, the United States offers opportunities that are imaginable in their home countries and range from access to education, availability of jobs, financial security, safety and others. These opportunities attract many to the United States and some ultimately want to stay permanently, get a green card and call United States home.
However, for those who want to get a green card in USA and gain permanent residency without marriage, the process is oftentimes lengthy, costly and complex. A green card in USA through marriage to a US citizen or green card holder is on the other hand less complex and more straightforward.
However, a green card through marriage should only be pursued when there is a genuine and real marriage, and not a sham marriage that is entered into solely for immigration purposes. Keep in mind that under U.S. law, marriage fraud is a federal crime that is punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years or fines of up to $250,000 or both. To learn more, visit our marriage based green card page, work permit (EAD) and interview waiver.
Types of green card without marriage
Aside from marriage based green cards, there are several alternative options available for getting a green card without marriage including through employment, entrepreneurship and one’s own abilities, investment, family or as a special immigrant. There are 6 types of green cards in USA you can get without marriage:
- Self-petition green card
- Employment-based green card
- Investment-based green card
- Special immigrant green card
- Diversity Visa (DV) lottery green card
- Family-based green card (no marriage)
For individuals who are not a spouse, child or parent of a US citizen or a spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), family-based options are either impossible or come with a years-long wait.
With the exception of DV Visa lottery, which as the name suggests is a lottery and does not require a petition, all other green card petitions are adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Self-petition green card
There are two types of green cards in USA for which a person can self-petition and does not need to have a US employer sponsor them. The 2 types of self-sponsored green cards are:
- EB-2 National Interest Waiver (EB-2 NIW). The NIW is available to individuals who hold advanced degrees (Master’s degree or higher, or Bachelor’s degree and 5 years of experience) or have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business, and have a proposed endeavor that has substantial merit, is nationally important and it will benefit the United States to waive the PERM labor certification. Individuals seeking EB-2NIW must also show that they are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor. Premium processing is available with USCIS to receive a decision on the EB-2 NIW petition within 45 calendar days. To learn more contact us.
- EB-1A Extraordinary Ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics. EB-1A is available to individuals who are top experts in their fields, in their home countries or internationally. Despite its title, there are no limits to the fields that may be included to qualify under the EB-1A green card category. Individuals must present extensive documentation to show that they meet the criteria for EB-1A and be prepared to submit reference letters from peers in the field (including independent reference letters) and other documents to show that they are among the top few percent in their fields. USCIS provides a premium processing option for individuals who want to expedite the process and get a decision within 15 calendar days.
Employment-based green card
- EB-1B Outstanding Researcher and Professor. EB-1B is available to individuals who have received international recognition for outstanding achievements in an academic field, have at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research, and are seeking a green card to pursue a tenure, tenure-track, or comparable research position with an academic institution. For individuals who work as researchers for a private employer, the employer must show that it employs at least 3 full-time researchers and that it has attained documented accomplishments in the field. A U.S. employer must submit the EB-1B petition, but no PERM labor certification is required. USCIS makes premium processing available to those who want to expedite the case and receive a decision in 15 calendar days.
- EB-1C Multinational Manager or Executive. EB-1C is available to individuals who have been employed by a company abroad as a manager or executive for at least 1 year in the past 3 years and are coming to the U.S. to work as a manager or executive for a US employer that is an affiliate, parent or subsidiary of their foreign employer. Individuals must have a job offer from US employer. The US employer must have been doing business in the United States for at least 1 year. No PERM labor certification is required. Smaller companies can qualify as long as they have offices in the US and at least one other country and all other legal requirements are met. Business owners may also qualify. 45 days premium processing is available with USCIS. To learn more, explore EB-1C without L-1 and changing or terminating EB-1C employment.
- EB-2 or EB-3 PERM Labor Certification. The EB-2 and EB-3 are for individuals who fill professional, skilled or unskilled positions in US companies. Unless waived, all applicants in the EB-2 and EB-3 employment-based green card categories require an approved PERM application. Generally, PERM Labor Certification is not available to individuals who are self-employed or have an ownership interest in the sponsoring employer’s business. The PERM Labor Certification is a 3-step process. To qualify individuals must have a job offer from a US employer and otherwise meet all other requirements.
Investment-based green card
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. A green card through the EB-5 Investor Program is available to individuals who invest a minimum of $1,050,000 in a US business or Regional Center in an urban or low unemployment area, or $800,000 in a US business or Regional Center in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
The investment must create or preserve at least 10 new jobs for U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and the investor must also demonstrate that they have the necessary capital and are not involved in any criminal activities. Capital contributed can also be in the form of loans. The EB-5 Investor Program leads to a green card for the investor, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21.
It is also possible to count investments made under an E-2 visa, L-1 visa, L-1 visa (Canada), E-1 visa or other nonimmigrant visa towards a green card through the EB-5 Investor Program. To learn more about the EB-5 program and other quasi investment-based alternatives, contact our immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA or schedule a consultation.
Special immigrant green card
Special immigrant green card is another route to get a green card in USA without marriage.
The following special immigrants are eligible for a green card:
- Religious workers
- Special Immigrant Juveniles
- Certain broadcasters
- Certain retired officers or employees of a G-4 international organization or NATO-6 civilian employees and their family members
- Certain employees of the U.S. government who are abroad and their family members
- Members of the U.S. armed forces
- Panama Canal company or Canal Zone government employees
- Certain physicians licensed and practicing medicine in a U.S. state as of Jan. 9, 1978
- Noncitizens who have supplied information concerning a criminal organization or enterprise or a terrorist organization, enterprise, or operation (S nonimmigrants).
Certain categories above require an employer to petition on the special immigrant’s behalf while in others special immigrants can self-petition.
DV lottery green card
The DV lottery is a program open to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.
To be eligible for a green card through the DV lottery, individuals must be nationals of eligible countries and must have:
- A high school diploma or successful completion of a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education) OR
- 2 years of work experience in the past 5 years in an occupation that requires at least 2 years of training or experience to perform. To determine if an individual has the required work experience, government officials use the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online database.
Individuals can apply for DV lottery once a year, generally between early October and early November of each year. The DV lottery application period typically opens in October of each year and lasts about 1 month. You cannot submit applications for DV lottery outside the registration period. To find out more about the DV lottery application period, you can check the US Department of State website.
Family-based green card (no marriage)
Individuals can also obtain a green card through family members in certain circumstances. Individuals that can be eligible for a family-based green card without marriage are:
- Unmarried child of a U.S. citizen who is under 21 years of age
- Married or unmarried adult child of a U.S. citizen
- Adopted child of a U.S. citizen
- Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen
- Stepchild of a US citizen if the marriage took place before child turned 18
- Parent of a U.S. citizen that is over 21 years of age
- Unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident who is under the age of 21
- Unmarried adult child of a lawful permanent resident
Keep in mind that some of the family-based green cards (without marriage) can take a long time and in some cases it can even take up to 15 years.
Malescu Law can assist
The steps and process to get a green card in USA without marriage varies based on the type of green card you apply for. There are various possible routes that you can take to get a green card without marriage such as self-petition, employment, family, EB-5 Investor Program or other quasi investment green card, special immigrant or DV lottery.
The green card application process is complex and can be lengthy but an immigration lawyer can assist with all the required documentation and information to avoid delays or rejections. Contact our immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA or schedule a consultation to discuss your immigration case.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers