The population of the United States in 2024 is about 340.9 million people. According to official information of American and international organizations, such as the U.S. Migration Policy Institute and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, there are about 42.4 million migrants living in the States today, or 13.1% of the total population. And if we take into account children of foreigners who were born on American territory, the figure reaches 81 million people or 25 percent.

Each year more than 1 million people of foreign origin come to the United States. Citizens of India, China, Mexico, Canada, and the Philippines seek to immigrate to the United States the most. These countries account for about half of the annual migration flow. Moreover, there are a huge number of illegal migrants, mainly from Latin American countries, who go to the United States with the hope of a better life. The vast majority of such foreigners are very quickly deported back home.

How to get a U.S. Green Card

American migration laws are quite strict, so trying to cross the U.S. border illegally is clearly not worth it. The main goal of any foreigner planning to move to the United States for a long-term period is to obtain a U.S. Green Card, which allows the foreigner to stay legally in the country and provides a wide range of rights almost equal to those of local citizens.

More than half of immigrants receive the document based on family ties, about 15% get it through formal employment in the States, 13% are refugees, and about 5% win a U.S. Green Card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV) lottery. There are also less common grounds for issuing a Green Card, such as through investment in the U.S. economy.

How to get a U.S. Green Card in 2024, 2025, 2026 to foreigners from different countries, the basic requirements and ways, we will talk further in the article.

What is a U.S. Green Card

The first thing to understand is what is a "Green card", what the benefits are and how it differs from a full-fledged American citizenship.

The U.S. Green Card is an official document, in the form of a plastic card, literally a green shade, which indicates that the foreigner has the right to permanent residence and employment on U.S. territory. The card contains a digital photo, fingerprints, expiration date and other personal information of the holder.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews applications and issues the document. The green card is issued for conditional 2-year period or for 10 years at once with possibility of prolongation. Permanent residency in the US for 5 years allows you to get an American passport.

The main difference between Green Card and full US citizenship is:

  • No ability to vote or participate in elections.

  • No right to leave the territory of the U.S. for an indefinite period of time (more than one year).

  • There is a possibility of Green Card revocation and deportation from the country. For example, if you have committed a serious crime or are suspected of terrorism or espionage. Certain limitations on receiving government benefits and subsidies.

For the above reasons, you should begin the U.S. citizenship process as early as possible.

What gives a U.S. Green Card

  • Unrestricted travel and entry to the U.S., as well as access to visa-free travel to many countries around the world.

  • The right to work freely, study at U.S. universities and conduct business in the States.

  • Opportunity to receive a pension if you have been lawfully employed in the U.S. for at least 10 years and are eligible for government subsidies and financial assistance for educational expenses.

  • The ability to take in close family members, particularly spouses and children under the age of 21, who will also be issued a Green Card.

  • Unlimited rights to purchase property – real estate, cars and even firearms. Access to mortgage lending, insurance services, and tax benefits.

Main ways to get a U.S. Green Card in 2024-2026

  1. Diversity Immigrant Visa Program lottery.

  2. Family Reunification.

  3. Marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  4. Formal employment (sponsorship).

  5. Investment.

  6. Refuge and Asylum.

Let's look at each option in more detail and answer the question how to get a Green Card in the US.

U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV) Green Card Lottery

For over 30 years, since 1990 the U.S. Department of State has been drawing a lottery under the Immigration and Nationality Act to award Green Cards to foreigners from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The annual number of cards drawn cannot exceed 55,000, including 5,000 for citizens of Nicaragua and Central America.

The eligibility requirements are that the number of US citizens who have immigrated to the United States in the past five years must not exceed 50,000. The maximum number of Green Cards for one country may not exceed 7% of the established total quota (55 thousand).

The program helps diversify the migration flow and gives a chance to get a Green Card in the United States to foreigners who have no other way to immigrate to the United States. However, some people think this initiative is unfair, since many skilled and educated citizens wait for years and cannot get the cherished document, and casual foreigners even without knowledge of the language and professional skills become permanent residents of the USA without much effort.

The main conditions for applicants for a U.S. Green Card under the Diversity Immigrant Visa program are a high school education or at least 2 years of work experience within the last 5 years in a profession requiring at least 2 years of training. That's it. If the application is approved, the "lucky man" will have to pass the interview, medical examination, and gather a list of approved documents. To move to the United States will be possible not earlier than 1.5 years after winning the lottery.

Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV)

Diversity Immigrant Visa

In 2023, the U.S. Green Card Program was drawn for the year 2025. Applications were accepted from October 4 to November 7. Those who did not make it to the DV-2025 lottery can try to obtain a U.S. Green Card in the fall of 2024 when the DV-2026 lottery will be held. The conditions do not change much each year.

Important. On April 22, 2020, former U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending entry into the United States for certain immigrants who pose a risk to the U.S. labor market while the economy recovers from the COVID-19 outbreak. The executive order was effective until March 31, 2021 (extensions are possible). Immigrant visa applicants covered by the decree, including Diversity Visa applicants who were not issued a visa as of April 23, 2020, are subject to restrictions unless they qualify for an exception. Existing visas will not be revoked.

To participate in the program, go to the U.S. Department of State's official Green Card Lottery website – – between October and November (specific dates) and fill out an application. Applications are not accepted by mail. The procedure is free. Please make sure that you fill out the form correctly, especially the photo requirements. There is a special tool on the site to check the photo specifications.

The detailed official instructions on how to fill in the US Green Card application form in different languages, as well as the requirements and conditions to participate in the lottery are available at this link. Many companies offer a paid intermediary service for DV applications. It is not advisable to do this, but if your English is a big problem, you can apply. The main thing is to be present in person when filling out the form and registering on the official website.

Winners of the lottery are selected by random selection by a computer. The results of the DV-2025 draw will be known on May 4, 2024 and will be available on the website until September 30, 2025 (you can check the status of the entry here). Before that date the alien must undergo additional testing and interviews at the U.S. Consulate. A U.S. Green Card holder may immigrate with his or her family (spouse and minor children under 21).

The number of people who want to participate in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is only growing each year. Over 10 million entries are received each year. Usually the percentage of winners, regardless of country is not more than 1.5%. Everyone has a chance. According to the officially published data of DV-2021 drawing the leader among European countries by the number of issued Green Cards is Russia – 6001, then Ukraine – 5604 and Uzbekistan – 5319.

U.S. Green Card based on family reunification

A U.S. Green Card can be obtained by immediate family members of U.S. citizens and aliens with a valid Green Card who are sponsoring their family.

In the case of a permanent resident of the United States

  • Spouses

  • Unmarried children of any age, including adopted children and stepchildren.

In the case of a U.S. citizen

  • Spouses.

  • Unmarried children of any age, including adopted children and stepchildren.

  • Parents, including foster parents.

  • Married children of any age.

  • Brothers and sisters.

Family reunification is one of the most common options for obtaining a U.S. Green Card, but for some categories of relatives, the most time-consuming. There are special "preferential categories" or "waiting lists" for which there are fixed quotas for the number of cards issued each year. For example, brothers and sisters can wait up to 10 years for a document.

U.S. Green Card based on marriage or Fiancée Visa

Spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents as well as fiancé(e)s of Americans planning to get married are eligible for immigrating to the United States and receiving a Green Card. The local law has a multi-step procedure, including applications, interviews, proof of fictitious marriages, and other tests.

U.S. Green Card based on marriage

For the bride/groom
  • A firm intention to marry a U.S. citizen (within 3 months of moving to the U.S.).

  • Proof of at least two years of relationship (photos of you together, copies of hotel bills, plane tickets, etc).

  • Legal right to marry.

For spouses
  • Valid legal marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • No marital relationship with another person.

  • Proof of the reality of the marriage (wedding photos, joint children, joint bank accounts, etc.).

U.S. Green Card based on employment

Official work in the USA will not only increase your income, but will also give you a chance to get a Green Card. There are a large number of work visas for migrant workers in the United States. The main task of the applicant is to find an American employer who will not only agree to hire a foreigner, but will also assist in the execution of the Green Card. This usually requires appropriate education, qualifications, experience, and most importantly, a profession that is considered scarce for the local labor market.

Below you can find the main international professional categories that are eligible for U.S. employment and permanent resident status.

  • Talented professors and scientists.

  • Health care professionals, including nurses and physical therapists.

  • Executives and senior managers of multinational companies.

  • Religious leaders.

  • Holders of scarce professions.

  • Other skilled and less frequently unskilled professionals of interest to employers and United States authorities.

U.S. Green Card based on investment

Significant financial investment in the U.S. economy will help you get a Green Card and immigrate to the U.S. There are two main requirements.

  • An investment of at least $1 million, which will create at least 10 jobs and benefit the U.S. economy.

  • An investment of at least $500,000 in a company located in a rural area or in a region with a high unemployment rate at least one and a half times higher than the national average.

U.S. Green Card based on refugee and political asylum

Permanent residency in the United States is granted to certain aliens who have fled their native country because of war, famine, civil and political unrest, who have been unreasonably persecuted by the authorities, or who fear for their lives and safety in the future. The evidence must be very substantial.

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