Permanent Residence Defined
Permanent Residency is the right to live and work in the United States
indefinitely. Often people refer to this immigrant status as having a "green
card". A limited amount of "green cards" are made available by the Government
for each fiscal year. When the numbers are exhausted, wait lists are compiled
which can be years long. The U.S. Department of State maintains the wait list,
and publishes a monthly bulletin containing this information each month.
Please note that Harvard University is able to provide employer sponsorship
for faculty and high level researchers. USCIS has formal notification that the
HIO is the only university office that may act as a signatory for immigration
based applications which require job offers from Harvard University and/or
signatures on immigration forms from the HIO.
Ways to Obtain Permanent Residence
There are numerous ways to pursue permanent residency. Some of the most
commonly utilized routes are sponsorship by an employer and self petitioning
procedures by which applicants prove national interest or exceptional ability,
sponsorship by a qualifying family member, investors, religious workers,
asylum, and the diversity lottery.
Employment Based Permanent Residence
Routes that are connected to employment and self petitioning procedures by
which foreign nationals prove national interest or exceptional ability relate
to multiple types of applications. These routes may either prove to the
Department of Labor that there were no minimally qualified candidates for a
position, or that the person is outstanding or exceptional in the field of
endeavor. Visit the Department of State website for more information on
employment based permanent residence.
Family Based Permanent Residence
A family member can offer sponsorship of permanent residence by means of a
qualifying family relationship. This is most frequently achieved for spouses of
United States Citizens (USC) who are considered to be Immediate Relatives and
for whom there is no quota or backlog. If in the United States when a foreign
national (FN) marries a USC, s/he is immediately eligible to file both a
Relative Petition and Application to Adjust Status. These application packages
should be filed together. The Government will schedule both an appointment for
fingerprinting and a mandatory interview with the couple, and if approved will
eventually result in Conditional Permanent Residence for the Foreign National.
The couple must file to remove the conditional nature of the approval at a
later date. Visit the Department of State's website for more information on
eligibility and application procedures.
Religious Worker Based Permanent Residence
A religious worker is a person who for the past two years has been a member
of a religious denomination which has a bona fide nonprofit, religious
organization in the United States; and who has been carrying on the vocation,
professional work, or other work described below, continuously for the past two
years. Please click here for more information on Religious Workers
Asylum Based Permanent Residence
An asylee is a person who cannot return to his/her home country because of a
well-founded fear of persecution. An application for asylum is made in the
United States to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. For
more information on this category of permanent residence please go here.
Investment Based Permanent Residence
Investors must invest between $500,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the
employment rate in the geographical area, in a commercial enterprise in the
United States which creates at least 10 new full-time jobs. For more
information on Investors, please go here.
Diversity Visa Lottery
Each year the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000
permanent resident visas, drawn from random selection among all entries to
persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates
of immigration to the United States. For more information on the Diversity Visa
Lottery, please go here.
United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) maintains a list of immigrant visas and the corresponding section of
law, as well as many links to comprehensive information on eligibility and