Nonimmigrant StatusThis is also known as the “permanent residence” status or the “green card” status. The immigrant status is assigned to those who have the intent to reside in the United States on permanent basis and are qualified to do so.
For a permanent resident, there are very few restrictions on their activities in the United States. They can freely attend school or work for any employer they desire (with the exception of certain government positions that require citizenship). Permanent residents also qualify for U.S. Citizenship upon meeting certain naturalization requirements.
There are a number of ways to obtain permanent residence status in the United States. Generally, types of immigrant status typically fall into three categories: (1) family-based; (2) employment-based; and (3) individual-based. For the family-based and employment-based categories, an applicant seeking permanent residence would need to be sponsored by a relative or an employer. This means the applicant must be an immediate family member of a U.S. Citizen or green card holder, or have permanent job offer from a U.S. employer.
The individual-based immigrant categories allow an applicant seeking permanent residence to “sponsor” themselves. This means they don’t need to have a family member or employer in the United States to petition on their behalf. These categories are typically available to individuals with extraordinary abilities and achievements and those who are engaged in work that benefit U.S. national interests. They are also available to foreign investors who make qualified investment in the United States.
Unlike the nonimmigrant categories, those seeking permanent resident status may be subject to a quota restriction. There is limit to the amount of immigrant visas that are available to a particular country each year. If the amount of people from one country seeking permanent residence exceeds the number of visas available to that country, a backlog ensues. This means people from certain countries may be subject to a waiting period before they can obtain their immigrant status.