Though there are many ways to obtain a green card, some routes are faster than others. One of the quickest ways to get a U.S. green card is through the annual diversity lottery, but your chances of winning are slim.


    You may also have a great chance of obtaining a green card if you have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or have been offered a job in the United States.

    Remember that percentages are allocated for family- and employment-based green cards, so it may take some time before your application is processed, even if you’re eligible for one of these categories.

    If you want to become a permanent resident of the United States and, afterward, become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, here are some of the quickest ways to obtain a U.S. green card.

    What is a U.S. Green Card?

    The U.S. Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued by the U.S. government that allows the holder to live and work in the country indefinitely. Subsequently, it provides a pathway to U.S. citizenship after a specified period (generally 3-5 years).

    The holder may also be eligible for specific federal and state benefits. Meanwhile, the U.S. green card processing times often depend on factors such as the green card category, your employment or family relationship that qualifies you, and where you are applying (within or outside the U.S.).

    The Green Card Application Forms

    • Applying from within the U.S.: Form I-485 (Application to Adjust Status) is for individuals already in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa, chosen for a diversity visa, or qualified through family or employment.
    • Applying outside the U.S.: Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application) is for individuals seeking an immigrant visa from abroad, either through family, employer sponsorship, or the diversity visa program.

    What are the Different Types of US Green Cards?

    1. Family-Based Green Cards

    The Fastest Ways to Get a US Green Card

    If you have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen, you can obtain a green card through them. Immediate family members may include parents, spouses, and children who are unmarried and under the age of 21.

    Siblings and married children of U.S. citizens are given specific preferences. Remember that family-based green cards are subject to rations, so it may take a while before your application is processed.

    And, of course, the process is simple! Your family member must complete a few forms and submit them to the proper authorities. Once everything is processed, you will be on your way to obtaining your Green Card!

    2. Employment-Based Green Cards

    If you have been offered a job in the United States, you can obtain an employment-based green card. Also, applicants can fall into any of the five categories in this type of green card.


    Workers who will fill positions that require advanced degrees or remarkable ability in their field are often prioritized! Just like the family-based green cards, there are also percentages for employment-based green cards. Therefore, your application may take a while to process.

    Here are the five categories of the employment-based green card:

    • EB-1 (priority workers): This category includes individuals with exceptional arts, sciences, or business ability and specific outstanding professors and researchers.
    • EB-2 (professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability): This category includes individuals with advanced degrees or the equivalent of a master’s degree and individuals with outstanding ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
    • EB-3 skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers (other workers): This category includes skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience that is not readily available in the United States, professionals with a bachelor’s degree, and unskilled workers.
    • EB-4 (special immigrants): This category includes adjusted religious workers, broadcasters, Afghan and Iraqi translators, international organization employees, Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided service to the U.S. government, and certain family members of Special Immigrants.
    • EB-5 (employment-based business investors): The last category falls under employment creation, also known as the investor visa. To qualify under this section, the investor must invest between $900K and $1.8 million into a U.S.-based commercial company.

    3. Diversity Lottery Green Cards

    Every year, under the green card lottery, the U.S. government randomly picks up to 50,000 people from a pool of entries from six geographic regions, such as Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

    Only individuals from countries that have had little immigration to the United States in the past (i.e., Algeria, Lebanon, and Slovakia) may enter the lottery. 

    The share of green cards distributed to any country is restricted to 7%. Most lottery applicants live in their home countries when they cast their entries, but some live in the United States under a different immigration status.

    4. Refugees and Asylees

    The Fastest Ways to Get a US Green Card

    People who fear or have encountered persecution in their home country, probably because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, can seek protection in the U.S. They can do this by applying for a visa from overseas (to come as refugees) or from within the U.S. (to remain as asylees).

    Once they have physically lived in the United States for at least one year since receiving refugee status or asylum, they may apply for a permanent resident card. Children, partners, and other family members of refugees and asylum may also seek protection in the country and ultimately apply for a green card under this program.

    5. Human-trafficking Victims

    Victims of human trafficking who are living in the United States – whether lawfully or unlawfully (undocumented) – may apply for a T visa to remain in the country for up to four years.

    As a condition of the T visa, they must contribute to investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of human trafficking (unless the victim is under age 18, in which case they need not help with such efforts).

    To qualify for a permanent resident card, the applicant must have physically lived in the United States for one of the following periods, whichever is shorter:

    • Three years since receiving a T visa
    • The duration of an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking

    In addition, they must meet other eligibility requirements, such as demonstrating good moral character. This implies they are clean from certain crimes, like fraud, prostitution, or murder, from the time of receiving a T visa until getting approval for a green card.

    Again, they must prove to the U.S. government that they would suffer severe hardship involving excruciating harm if required to exit the United States. Certain family members will also qualify for their green cards if relatives and the victim satisfy all requirements.

    6. Crime Victims

    Victims of significant physical or mental abuse who are living in the United States may seek protection by applying for a U visa. If you want to obtain a U visa, a law enforcement agency must certify the victim’s application.

    Similar to recipients of T visas, an applicant for a U visa must also assist in investigating and prosecuting people who commit certain crimes, like kidnapping, sexual assault, and torture.

    7. Abuse Victims

    Victims of domestic violence may also apply for a green card that would allow them to seek comfort through the Violence Against Women Act (V.A.W.A.). Although the U.S. government created this law to benefit women, it applies to both women and men, and both parents and children, who are victims of abuse.

    An abuse victim may apply for a permanent resident card without the knowledge or permission of their abusive relative, who can include:

    • A current or former spouse who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
    • A parent who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder
    • A child who is a U.S. citizen

    U.S.C.I.S. will not notify the abusive relative of the application to keep the victim safe.


    As discussed above, numerous ways to get a green card in the United States exist. You may be surprised by all the options that immigration law has to offer and where you may fit in.


    Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the different available options. We hope that you found this information helpful!