How to get a Green Card when moving to America

Applying for a visa to work in a foreign country can seem very daunting. However, many countries are taking active steps to welcome expats and make it as easy as possible for people to apply for visas. The USA is one country that offers a number of different ways for an expat to gain residency. The most popular route, famed in film and firmly established in popular consciousness, is the Green Card.
If you are moving to the USA and have been offered permanent employment, your new employer will need to ‘sponsor’ you in order for your visa application to be processed. This is a multi-staged process but begins with the employer filing an I-140 form (also known as an ‘Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker’) with the US Department of Labor.
A Green Card may also be obtained via sponsorship by an immediate relative who is a US citizen, such as son/daughter or brother/sister. This is often a very quick and easy route in terms of the application process and many people moving to the USA, who have not yet gained an offer of employment, gain a Green Card through this method.
A very small handful of people will be able to gain a Green Card through self petition. This method is for those that are of ‘extraordinary ability’, such as Nobel Prize winners, notable athletes and others who have enjoyed great success in the fields of science, arts, education, business or athletics.
Up to 10,000 Green Card visas are granted every year to investors and entrepreneurs who invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in an area of high unemployment), and have plans to create and sustain ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers. The ‘Green Card Through Investment’ route will also provide residence for the applicant, their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 and is a great example of how the USA is welcoming wealthy expats into the country to help boost the economy.
In each of these instances, when beginning the process of moving to the USA and applying for a visa, the best place to start is the website of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. When you have the visa in place and are ready to move to America, get in touch with Cadogan Tate to find out more information on its specialist moving to the USA service.
Information correct at time of publication. Amended from an article first published in September 2014.