A Complete Guide to Green Card Categories

Green card eligibility categories are defined by USCIS and explain what groups of people may be eligible for green cards, also known as permanent residency.

Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Published on: May 18, 2020, Last updated on: October 23, 2023.

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Green Card Categories

Green card eligibility categories describe the immigrant visa category used to admit an immigrant to the United States as a permanent or conditional permanent resident. The field is also known as “class of admission.”

To apply for a Green Card and obtain permanent residency in the U.S., you must be eligible under one of these categories:

  • Eligibility through family (as family-based immigration)
  • Eligibility through employment
  • Eligibility as a special immigrant
  • Eligibility through human trafficking or crime victim
  • Eligibility as victim of abuse
  • Eligibility through other categories
  • Eligibility through the registry (a United States resident continuously before January 1, 1972)

These categories have multiple sub-categories based on familial relationships, employment status, or country of origin.

When it comes to family members, you can apply for a green card if you are an immediate relative of a United States citizen or, more precisely, if you are their spouse, child, or parent.

However, a familial or marital relationship has to be proven by providing, for example, a marriage certificate. Spouses must also demonstrate that they didn’t enter into marriage primarily to get a green card. Also, spouses are usually entitled to an immigrant visa immediately. The intending immigrant also has to apply for permanent residence.

But, family-based green cards also include other family relationships with United States citizens and certain relationships with permanent residents. These family members have to wait until an immigrant visa becomes available.

When that occurs, they can apply for an adjustment of status to permanent resident status in case they are located in the United States. If they are outside the United States, they must apply for a green card via the consular procedure in their home country, at a U.S. consulate or embassy.

Abuse victims of domestic violence can apply for a green card through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and seek relief. An asylee or a refugee can apply for permanent residence status one year after being granted asylum or refugee status.

To learn more about your options for attaining permanent residence in the United States, contact the expert attorneys at Tadeo & Silva.

Green Card Categories section

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What Are Green Card Categories?

Green Card eligibility categories are the situations that apply to foreign nationals when they apply to become permanent residents of the United States. These categories are based on one of the following: family relationship, employment situation, victims of crime/human trafficking, abuse, refugee status, special immigrant status, length of continuous residency in the U.S., or “other categories.”

The expert attorneys at Tadeo & Silva can clarify these categories as you pursue your dream of becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States.

How Do I Find My Green Card Category?

The Green Card category code describes the immigrant visa category used to admit an immigrant to the U.S. as a permanent or conditional permanent resident. It is located on the front side of the Green Card next to the cardholder’s A-number. This field is also known as the class of admission. Green Cards are also known as Permanent Resident Cards.

A Green Card Category number typically comprises one or two letters followed by a number.

If you are interested in learning which category code applies to your situation and beginning the process toward becoming a United States resident, the immigration attorneys at Tadeo & Silva can help.

Types of Green Card

To achieve U.S. permanent residency, you must obtain a permanent resident card, commonly called a green card. This status allows long-term residency and the ability to work in the country. The filing process for securing the various types of green cards can be challenging and time-consuming. Still, an immigration lawyer can guide you toward the right U.S. permanent residency path. 

The types of green cards are listed from most commonly used to least.

  1. Green Card Via Family: A family member may begin the process by filing an I-130 petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, you will be placed on a waiting list for a visa, which can later be updated to a green card.
  2. Green Card Via Employment: U.S.-based employers may petition on your behalf, enabling you to receive a green card for living and working in the country. 
  3. Green Card Via Adoption: An adopted child under 16 who resided with you for at least two years can receive a visa. You can file for it to be updated to permanent residency on their behalf.
  4. Green Card Via Religious Work: If you have been a member for at least two years, the religious organization for which you work can file a green card petition on your behalf.
  5. Green Card Via Asylum or Refuge: Although this is the most challenging type of green card to obtain and has seen multiple evolutions over the years, asylum petitions are an option for some seeking to enter the country. This type of green card is available to those entering the U.S. legally or illegally who face civil unrest, death, famine, fear of persecution, torture, or war in their country of origin.
  6. Diversity Immigrant Visa Program: The U.S. government conducts the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program annually, allowing 50,000 individuals to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States.
  7. Green Card Via Special Immigrant Status: For those who have worked for the U.S. government abroad, fled communist or other countries of oppression and domestic violence victims, special immigrant status may be available to obtain permanent residency.
  8. Green Card Via Extraordinary Ability or Achievement: You must demonstrate outstanding ability in science, arts, athletics, education, or business to qualify for this green card. 
  9. Green Card Via Humanitarian Programs: This type of green card is available to nonimmigrants determined to be eligible for a green card and do not need a petition.

If you are unsure which type of green card is right for you, The skilled and knowledgeable team from Tadeo & Silva is prepared to assist you on your journey to obtaining U.S. permanent residency. Contact their Atlanta, Georgia office for information, advice, and advocacy as you work to achieve your dream of earning a green card.

Types of Green Card

Green Card Eligibility Categories Made Simple

Tadeo & Silva, immigration attorneys in Atlanta are an experienced team ready to fight for you and your family.

List of Green Card Category Codes

There are currently 115 Green Card category codes. The complete list is below or on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website here.

Green Card Eligibility Category Codes

The largest group of lawful permanent residents or recipients of green cards are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

 

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

IR1 – Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
IR6 – Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
CR1 – Spouse of a U.S. citizen. Conditional.
CR6 – Spouse of a U.S. citizen. Conditional.
IB1 – Spouses of U.S. citizens, new arrivals, self-petitioning.
IB6 – Spouses of U.S. citizens, adjustments, self-petitioning.
IW1 – Spouses of U.S. citizens, widows or widowers, new arrivals.
IW6 – Spouses U.S. citizens, widows or widowers, adjusted status.
CF1 – Alien whose record of admission is created upon the conclusion of a valid marriage contract after entering as a fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen. Conditional.
IF1 – Alien whose record of admission is created upon the conclusion of a valid marriage contract after entering as a fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen.
IR2 – Child of a U.S. citizen.
IR7 – Child of a U.S. citizen, adjusted status.
CR2 – Stepchild of a U.S. citizen. Conditional.
CR7 – Stepchild of a U.S. citizen. Conditional; adjusted status.
AR1 – Children of an U.S. citizen, Amerasian, born in Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, or Laos, new arrivals.
AR6 – Children, Amerasian, born in Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, or Laos, adjusted status.
IB2 – Child of a U.S. citizen, self-petitioning, new arrivals.
IB7 – Child of U.S. citizen, self-petitioning adjusted status.
IB3 – Child or children of an alien IB1 or IB6, new arrivals.
IB8 – Child or children of an alien IB1 or IB6, adjusted status.
IW2 – Child or children of an alien IW1 or IW6, new arrivals.
IW7 – Child or children of an alien IW1 or IW6, adjusted status.
CF2 – Minor stepchild of an alien classified as CF1. Conditional.
IF2 – Minor child of an alien classified as IF1.
IH3 – Child adopted abroad under the Hague Convention, new arrivals.
IH8 – Child adopted abroad under the Hague Convention, adjusted status.
IH4 – Child or children who are going to be adopted under the Hague Convention, new arrivals.
IH9 – Child or children who are going to be adopted under the Hague Convention, adjusted status.
IR3 – Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen.
IR8 – Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen.
IR4 – Orphan to be adopted by a U.S. citizen.
IR9 – Orphan to be adopted by a U.S. citizen.
IR5Parent of a U.S. citizen.
IR0 – Parent of a U.S. citizen.
IB5 – Parent of a U.S. citizen who are abused or battered, self-petitioning, new arrivals.
IB0 – Parent of a U.S. citizen who are abused or battered, self-petitioning, adjusted status.

Family-Sponsored Preferences

Members of the family who are not immediate relatives may also be eligible for green cards under this category.

First Preference

A11 – Unmarried Amerasian daughters or sons of a U.S. citizen, new arrivals.
A16 – Unmarried Amerasian daughters or sons of a U.S. citizen, adjusted status.
F11 – Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen.
F16 – Unmarried sons or daughters of a U.S. citizen, adjusted status.
B11 – Unmarried daughter or son of a U.S. citizen, self-petitioning, new arrivals.
B16 – Unmarried daughter or son of a U.S. citizen, self-petitioning, adjusted status.
A12 – Child of an alien A11 or A16, new arrivals.
A17 – Child of an alien A11 or A16, adjusted status.
F12 – Child of an alien classified as F11 or F16.
F17 – Child of an alien classified as F11 or F16.
B12 – Child of an alien B11 or B16, new arrivals.
B17 – Child of an alien B11 or B16, adjusted status.

Second Preference

F21 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations).
F26 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations).
B21 – Spouses of permanent residents, self-petitioning, new arrivals.
B26 – Spouses of permanent residents, self-petitioning, adjusted status.
C21 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations). Conditional.
C26 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations). Conditional.
FX1 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations).
FX6 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations).
BX1 – Spouses of alien residents (lawful permanent residents), exempt from country limitations, self-petitioning, new arrivals.
BX6 – Spouses of alien residents (lawful permanent residents), exempt from country limitations, self-petitioning, adjusted status.
CX1 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations). Conditional.
CX6 – Spouse of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations). Conditional.
F22 – Child (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations).
F27 – Child (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations).
B22 – Child of legal permanent resident, subject to country limitations, self-petitioning, new arrivals.
B27 – Child of legal permanent resident, subject to country limitations, self-petitioning, adjusted status.
C23 – Child of an alien classified as C21, C22, C26, or C27 (subject to country limitations). Conditional.
C28 – Child of an alien classified as C21, C22, C26, or C27 (subject to country limitations). Conditional.
B23 – Child of an alien B21, B22, B26, or B27, subject to country limitations, new arrivals.
B28 – Child of an alien B21, B22, B26, or B27, subject to country limitations, adjusted status.
F23 – Child of an alien classified as F21 or F26 (subject to country limitations).
F28 – Child of an alien classified as F21 or F26 (subject to country limitations).
C25 – Child of an alien classified as C24 or C29. Conditional.
C20 – Child of an alien classified as C24 or C29. Conditional.
B25 – Child of an alien B24 or B29, subject to country limitations, new arrivals.
B20 – Child of an alien B24 or B29, subject to country limitations, adjusted status.
F25 – Child of an alien classified as F24 or F29 (subject to country limitations).
F20 – Child of an alien classified as F24 or F29 (subject to country limitations).
C22- Stepchild (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations). Conditional.
C27 – Stepchild (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations). Conditional.
FX2 – Child (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations).
FX7 – Child (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations).
BX2 – Children of permanent residents, exempt from country limitations, self-petitioning, new arrivals.
BX7 – Children of permanent residents, exempt from country limitations, self-petitioning, adjusted status.
CX3 – Child of an alien classified as CX2 or CX7 (exempt from country limitations). Conditional.
CX8 – Child of an alien classified as CX2 or CX7 (exempt from country limitations). Conditional.
BX3 – Child of an alien BX1, BX2, BX6, or BX7, exempt from country limitations, new arrivals.
BX8 – Child of an alien BX1, BX2, BX6, or BX7, exempt from country limitations, adjusted status.
FX3 – Child of an alien classified as FX1, FX2, FX7, or FX8 (exempt from country limitations).
FX8 – Child of an alien classified as FX1, FX2, FX7, or FX8 (exempt from country limitations).
CX2 – Stepchild (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations). Conditional.
CX7 – Stepchild (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident alien (exempt from country limitations). Conditional.
F24 – Unmarried son or daughter (21 years of age or older) of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations).
F29 – Unmarried sons or daughters (21 years of age or older) of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations).
B24 – Unmarried daughter or son of a legal permanent resident, subject to country limitations, self petitioning, new arrivals.
B29 – Unmarried daughter or son of a legal permanent resident, subject to country limitations, self petitioning, adjusted status.
C24 – Unmarried son or daughter (21 years of age or older) who is a stepchild of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations). Conditional.
C29 – Unmarried son or daughter (21 years of age or older) who is a stepchild of a lawful permanent resident alien (subject to country limitations). Conditional.

Third Preference

A31 – Married Amerasian daughter or son of a U.S. citizen born in Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, or Vietnam, new arrivals.
F31 – Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen.
C31 – Married son or daughter who is a stepchild of a U.S. citizen. Conditional.
B31 – Self-petition Married daughter or son of a U.S. citizen, self petitioning, new arrivals.
A36 – Married Amerasian daughters or sons of U.S. citizens born in Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, or Vietnam, adjusted status.
F36 – Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen.
C36 – Married son or daughter who is a stepchild of a U.S. citizen. Conditional.
B36 – Self-petition married daughter or son of a U.S. citizen, self-petitioning, adjusted status.
A32 – Spouses of aliens A31 or A36, new arrivals.
A37 – Spouses of aliens A31 or A36, adjusted status.
F32 – Spouse of an alien classified as F31 or F36.
F37 – Spouse of an alien classified as F31 or F36.
C32 – Spouse of an alien classified as C31 or C36. Conditional.
C37 – Spouse of an alien classified as C31 or C36. Conditional.
B32 – Spouses of aliens B31 or B36, new arrivals.
B37 – Spouses of aliens B31 or B36, adjusted status.
A33 – Children of aliens A31 or A36, subject to country limitations, new arrivals.
A38 – Children of aliens A31 or A36, subject to country limitation, adjusted status.
F33 – Child of an alien classified as F31 or F36.
F38 – Child of an alien classified as F31 or F36.
C33 – Child of an alien classified as C31 or C36. Conditional.
C38 – Child of an alien classified as C31 or C36. Conditional.
B33 – Children of aliens B31 or B36, subject to country limitation, new arrivals.
B38 – Children of aliens B31 or B36, subject to country limitation, adjusted status.

Fourth Preference

F41 – Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen, new arrivals.
F46 – Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen.
F42 – Spouse of an alien classified as F41 or F46, new arrivals.
F47 – Spouse of an alien classified as F41 or F46.
F43 – Child of an alien classified as F41 or F46, new arrivals.
F48 – Child of an alien classified as F41 or F46.

Employment-based Preferences

Those looking to provide their skills needed in the United States workforce or those who want to invest in new jobs may be eligible for a green card under these preferences.

Employment-based Preferences

E11 – Priority worker – alien with extraordinary ability.
E16 – Priority worker – alien with extraordinary ability, adjusted status.
E12 – Priority worker – outstanding professor or researcher.
E17 – Priority worker – outstanding professor or researcher, adjusted status.
E13 – Priority worker – certain multinational executive or manager.
E18 – Priority worker – certain multinational executive or manager, adjusted status.
E14 – Spouse of a priority worker classified as E11, E16, E12, E17, E13, or E18.
E19 – Spouse of a priority worker classified as E11, E16, E12, E17, E13, or E18, adjusted status.
E15 – Child of a priority worker classified as E11, E16, E12, E17, E13, or E18.
E10 – Child of priority workers classified as E11, E16, E12, E17, E13, or E18.

Priority Workers

E21 – Professional holding advanced degrees or of exceptional ability.
E26 – Professional holding advanced degrees or of exceptional ability, adjusted status.
ES1 – Soviet scientists, new arrivals.
ES6 – Soviet scientists, adjusted status.
E22 – Spouse of an alien classified as E21 or E26.
E27 – Spouse of an alien classified as E21 or E26, adjusted status.
E23 – Child of an alien classified as E21 or E26.
E28 – Child of an alien classified as E21 or E26, adjusted status.

Needed Unskilled Workers, Skilled Workers and Professionals

E31 – Alien who is a skilled worker.
E36 – Alien who is a skilled worker.
E32 – Professional who holds a baccalaureate degree or who is a member of a profession.
E37 – Professional who holds a baccalaureate degree or who is a member of a profession.
EW3 – Other worker performing unskilled labor, not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the U.S..
EW8 – Other worker performing unskilled labor, not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the U.S..
EC6 – Chinese Student Protection Act aliens, adjusted status.
E34 – Spouse of a skilled worker or professional classified as E31, E36, E32, or E37.
E39 – Spouse of a skilled worker or professional classified as E31, E36, E32, or E37.
EW4 – Spouse of an alien classified as EW3 or EW8.
EW9 – Spouse of an alien classified as EW3 or EW8.
EC7 – Spouses of Chinese Student Protection Act aliens, adjusted status.
E35 – Child of a skilled worker or professional classified as E31, E36, E32, or E37.
E30 – Child of a skilled worker or professional classified as E31, E36, E32, or E37.
EW5 – Child of an alien classified as EW3 or EW8.
EW0 – Child of an alien classified as EW3 or EW8.
EC8 – Children of Chinese Student Protection Act aliens, adjusted status.

Other Admission Categories

AM1 – Amerasian, born in Vietnam
AM2 – Spouse/child of AM1 or AM6
AM3 – Mother, guardian or relative of AM1 or AM6
AS1 – Approved primary asylee
AS2 – Spouse of asylee
AS3 – Child of asylee
NA3 – Child born during the temporary visit abroad of a mother who is a lawful permanent resident alien or national of the U.S.
XE3 – Child born subsequent to the issuance of a visa. Parent is employment-based preference immigrant.
XF3 – Child born subsequent to the issuance of a visa. Parent is a family-based preference immigrant.
XR3 – Child born subsequent to the issuance of a visa. Parent is an immediate relative immigrant.
Y1-16, Y64 – Refugees

List of Green Card Category Codes

Assistance with Green Card Eligibility Categories

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Green Card Category Wait Times

If you’re wondering, “how long does it take to get a green card?” there are conflicting response times for green card processing based on the green card category. Additionally, in 2020, the Coronavirus crisis has impacted and delayed the wait times. 

All USCIS Atlanta interviews and biometric appointments are being rescheduled due to office closures. All applications received are still being processed but at a slower pace.

Without a biometrics notice, work and travel permits are not being processed. Depending on how long office closures remain, a 5-8 months extension in processing time for work and travel permits and an 11-14 months extension in processing time for green cards can be expected

Before the Coronavirus impact, it took 7 to 33 months to process a Green Card application.

Family Preference Green Card processing took between 1 and 10 years, depending on the wait time and yearly caps. Employment-Based Green Cards processing could be from 1 year for visas with low demand to 4 or 6 years for visas with very high demand.

Tadeo & Silva have years of experience navigating the Atlanta immigration court and can help you as you begin your Green Card application process.

Green Card Category Wait Times

A Complete Guide to Green Card Eligibility Categories

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Step-by-Step Guide to Green Card Application

  1. Determine Eligibility: Review the various green card categories to identify which one you qualify for. Common categories include family sponsorship, employment-based, and asylum or refugee status.
  2. Prepare Your Documentation: Gather essential documents such as birth certificates, passports, employment records, and proof of eligibility. Ensure all documents are translated into English if necessary.
  3. File the Appropriate Petition: For family-based green cards, file Form I-130. For employment-based, file Form I-140. Ensure all forms are filled out accurately to avoid delays.
  4. Pay the Fees: The required filing fees can vary. The latest fee schedule is on the USCIS website.
  5. Attend Biometrics Appointment: Once your application is accepted, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and signatures.
  6. Prepare for the Interview: If an interview is required, gather all requested documents and practice answering potential questions. Dress professionally and arrive on time.
  7. Receive Your Decision: USCIS will send you a decision notice. If approved, you will receive your green card in the mail.

Tips:

  • Stay Informed: Regularly check your application status online and respond promptly to any USCIS requests for additional information.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consider consulting with an immigration attorney to ensure all steps are properly completed and to receive personalized advice.

Green Card Eligibility Categories

Immigration law in the United States specifies several categories that define specific groups of people who may be able to apply for permanent residency. If you don’t fit into one of the categories, you may not have grounds to request a green card.

Some of the reasons that a person can apply for a green card or Permanent Resident Card include:

  • A future job offer or your current employment

  • Status as a refugee or asylee

  • Status of your family members

  • Various other special provisions

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to self-petition for permanent residency. An experienced immigration attorney can assist you with this process since there are many nuances.

Once you apply for permanent residence, you will be classified into a category, and each category is assigned a certain preference level or priority. Immediate relatives of current U.S. citizens are given the highest priority. For most other categories, there are limits on the number of visas that can be granted each year. The U.S. Government, specifically the United States Congress, determines these limits.

Green Card Eligibility Categories

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The Benefits of Working with an Experienced Immigration Attorney

Obtaining a green card can be a lengthy and complex process. The guidance and support of an experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate the system, avoid mistakes, and increase your chances of success.

Some of the benefits of working with an immigration attorney include:

  • Helping you understand your eligibility for various categories

  • Reviewing your application to ensure it is complete and accurate

  • Preparing supporting documents that strengthen your case

  • Answering any questions or concerns you may have throughout the process

  • Representing you in court if necessary

At Tadeo & Silva, we understand the importance of obtaining a green card and its impact on your future. We are committed to providing exceptional legal services and helping our clients achieve their immigration goals.

If you or a loved one is looking to apply for a green card, contact us today. Our team of experienced immigration attorneys will guide you through the process and work tirelessly to help you achieve your American dream. So don’t wait any longer – let Tadeo & Silva help you start your journey towards becoming a permanent resident so you can live and work in the United States!

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