Before we discuss the various ways of gaining permanent residence,it is necessary to have three thoughts in the back of our minds:

Firstly, there are a limited number of green cards that are available each year. In other words, there is a quota system ofimmigration in the U.S.A..  More visas are given out in some of the categories than in other categories each year.  These categories are known as "preferences." 

So, even though a person may qualify for a green card in one of the preferences, that person may have to wait for a green card because there is a line for green cards in that preference. 

The term "preference" can be misleading.  It could be quicker to receive a green card in the fourth or fifth preference than in the second or third preference.

The second thought we must bear in mind when discussing green cards based on employment is that there is a general rule that it first must be proven that there is a shortage of U.S. citizens qualified to do that job in the place where the work is to be performed.  This shortage is proved to the Immigration Service by obtaining a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor.

There are important exceptions to this general rule that a person must first obtain a Labor Certification before applying for Permanent Residence.

THE LABOR CERTIFICATION process is discussed in greater detail elsewhere on this site.  It is a lengthy process that should be avoided if possible.  This can sometimes be achieved by a person qualifying for an Immigration visa in a category that does not require a labor certification.

Thirdly, A person may qualify for a green card in more than one of the preferences.

In that case one would obviously select the most convenient or advantageous preference for obtaining the green card as quickly as possible.


Click on a link for more information:

Labor Certification 


First Preference: "Priority Workers"


Second Preference


Third Preference


Fourth Preference


Fifth Preference