Whether you're facing deportation or just have a desire to participate in the American dream, this guide will get you permanent legal status in the good ol' USA.
Step 1: Check for eligibility Check for eligibility at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department website, USCIS.gov, and be sure you have a clean record before applying for a green card to avoid costly errors and delays later on.
Step 2: Enter lottery Take a crack at the national lottery put on by the United States government that awards 50,000 immigrants with permanent legal status each year.
TIP: There are strict rules on who can and cannot enter the lottery, so do your research before getting your hopes up.
Step 3: Use a connection Ask a family member who is already a U.S. citizen to sponsor you, or look for employment and then apply for a green card with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department once you find a job.
TIP: The path to citizenship can be long and complex, so consider hiring a lawyer to handle the paperwork and answer questions. The cost may justify the result.
Step 4: Secure a job Secure a job and have your permanent employer file an Immigration Petition for you, or apply for a green card with a specialized job such as religious worker or an international organization employee. Information on the eligibility for specialized work is available on the USCIS website.
Step 5: Contact your senator or representative Contact your senator or local representative and make your case to gain citizenship, as they can speed up the process and help with red tape.
Step 6: Apply for asylum or refugee status Apply for asylum if you fear persecution upon returning to your country, or refugee status if you have been displaced by war, famine, or civil unrest.
Step 7: Marry an American Meet, fall in love with, and marry a natural-born citizen. Apply for a green card after you get your marriage certificate.
FACT: Ellis Island was officially declared the first federal immigration station by President Benjamin Harrison in 1890. More than 12 million immigrants passed through the port between 1892 and 1954.