A green card, also known as a permanent resident card, is an official identification card. It gives qualifying individuals permanent work and residence rights in the United States. 

The green card is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Non-US citizens who hold a green card have almost all the rights of US citizens.

These rights cannot be revoked except in extraordinary situations that may result in deportation. 

Additionally, the green card gives its holders the right to apply for US citizenship.  

This article examines the green card eligibility categories, plus a few key considerations. 


Who Is Eligible for a US Green Card?


If you are a non-US citizen, you may apply for a US green card if you qualify for one of the following categories:




  • Immediate relatives or family members of US citizens or a lawful permanent residents of the US
  • The fiancé(e)s, fiancé(e)s, children, and widows/widowers of US citizens
  • VAWA self-petitioners/victims of battery or extreme cruelty of US citizens or lawful permanent residents. VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act. The VAWA self-petition allows you to apply for lawful status without relying on an abusive US citizen or lawful permanent resident 




  • People who work in the US as immigrant workers or immigrant investors
  • National Interest Waiver (NIW) Physicians. The NIW is a special program allowing physicians who practiced in a medically-underserved area or in a Veterans Affairs (VA) facility for 5 years to obtain permanent residence


Special immigrant


  • Religious workers
  • Young persons who have been abused or abandoned
  • Afghanistan or Iraq nationals previously employed by the US government
  • Members of the media for the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM)
  • USAGM grantees
  • Retired officers or employees of an eligible international organization such as NATO, or family members of such employees


Human trafficking and crime victims


  • T nonimmigrant visa holders for Victims of Human Trafficking 
  • U nonimmigrant visa holders for Victims of Criminal Activity


Victim of abuse


  • Immediate relatives of Cuban citizens who are victims of abuse
  • Abused immediate relatives of lawful permanent residents who have obtained a green card through HRIFA (Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act)


Refugee or asylum


  • Foreign nationals who have acquired refugee or asylum status at least one year ago




  • Individuals who have maintained continuous residence in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972 


Other categories


  • Qualifying Liberian or Cuban nationals
  • Lautenberg or Indochinese parolees
  • Native Americans born in Canada
  • Individuals born in the US to foreign diplomatic representatives
  • Diplomatic representatives unable to return to their countries of origin


US Green Card: Grounds of Inadmissibility for Permanent Residence


Even if you believe that you qualify for one of the green card categories listed below, it’s important to be aware that you could still face obstacles in obtaining US permanent residence. 

This could be due to reasons such as criminal history, unauthorized employment, financial status, violation of immigration laws, drug abuse and illicit trafficking, security issues, and other related concerns. 

In immigration law, these obstacles are referred to as grounds of inadmissibility.

Nevertheless, the grounds of inadmissibility are applicable based on your specific circumstances.

For instance, if you are applying for a green card through the refugee and asylum status category, you might be exempt from certain grounds of inadmissibility, such as illegal entry.

If you need more information on the grounds of inadmissibility, please consult Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  

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