When people talk about the fastest way of becoming a citizen of the U.S., one option is to get their green card, although there are other routes as well.
When you have a green card, it makes you a U.S. lawful permanent resident. If someone is interested in the fastest way to get their green card, they usually also want to know which route will have the least demanding and time-consuming steps.
There’s not one particular answer to the question of the fastest way to get a green card because a lot of it is going to depend on your personal circumstances.
Some of the most common categories of green card people use to come to the U.S. include those based on family relationships, having a job with an employer in the U.S., or the diversity visa lottery.
Below, we cover some of the theoretically fastest ways to get a green card, although again, every situation is going to depend on the person and the context of their situation.
Marrying Someone Who’s a U.S. Citizen
If you marry someone who’s a U.S. citizen, this is undoubtedly the fastest way to immigrate to the country. The process may take anywhere from six to nine months on average. At that point, the immigrant would receive their green card.
If you marry a U.S. citizen, you have to contact USCIS within two years with proof that your marriage is valid, and then you can get your permanent resident status.
If you’re the spouse of a citizen of the United States, you must have continuously resided in the country after you became a lawful permanent resident for at least three years right after the filing date for a naturalization application. You must have lived as a married couple with your spouse, who was a citizen during that time.
If you have family in the United States, this process of reunification can take nine months or as long as five years.
The fastest path within the larger category of family reunification is a reunion for close relatives. That would mean a parent, spouse, or unmarried child under the age of 21 who’s a citizen of the U.S.
For family-sponsored petitions, you can potentially be immediately eligible for an immigrant visa number. If you aren’t an immediate relative, then other family-sponsored petitions will be in one of five visa preference categories.
These are first preference or F1, which is for sons and daughters who aren’t married and are over the age of 21.
The second preference is for spouses and children who are under 21 years of age of permanent residents.
Second preference in the F2B category is for sons and daughters of permanent residents who aren’t married and are 21 and older.
The third preference category is F3. This is the category for sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who are married, including their own spouses and their children who are minors.
The fourth preference category, or F4, is for siblings of citizens of the U.S., including spouses and minor children, as long as the citizens of the U.S. are at least 21 years old.
When it comes to family immigration, to reiterate, the fastest path with the fewest barriers to a green card is for immediate relatives.
If you get asylum in the U.S., you can then get a green card within a year once you’ve successfully done an interview process with an immigration officer.
There have been changes in the asylum process recently, so the officer interview is typically scheduled within two months after someone files a petition. If the petition is approved, it makes for a rapid process to get a green card, relatively speaking.
There is an EB-1 visa for people who are considered to have extraordinary abilities, and as such, they are given a high priority. These petitions tend to be processed quickly.
If you were to apply for either an EB-1A or B visa and you use premium processing which costs more, it’s possible to get your green card within a year of your petition being approved.
If you’re applying for what’s called an EB-1C visa for managers and directors who are considered to have outstanding skills or abilities, your wait can be as long as 18-24 months.
Immigration-Related to Investments
Finally, if you are an investor, you might be eligible for an EB-5 investment visa. You get a temporary green card during this time for 12-18 months. You might be able to get a permanent green card in about five years from the date of your petition.