How to Obtain a Green Card for an H-2A Worker

Holders of H-2A visas are allowed to work in the United States on a temporary or seasonal basis, but they may not live in the U.S. and are not considered permanent residents. They can apply for permanent residence, a green card, through immediate family members who are citizens or permanent residents. Unless special circumstances, if they do not have any close relatives who are legal residents in the U.S., they may be able to enter the green card Lottery. If neither of these options are possible, an immigration lawyer may be able to help.


    • 1

      Obtain Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, website A family member must complete the form to petition on your behalf. The person completing the form must be a close family relative, a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. Acceptable relationships include spouses, unmarried child under 21, unmarried child over 21, married son or daughter any age, a parent at least 21 years old or a brother or sister who is 21 or over.

    • 2

      Give the form to the family member, called the petitioner. The petitioner must complete the I-130 form, proof of the family relationship, including a marriage certificate for a spouse or stepchild and affidavits from a third party as to the validity of the marriage. Birth certificates must be supplied for all other relationships showing both parents' names and adoption records for adopted children who qualify because they were under 16 at the time of adoption. The petitioner must provide proof of U.S. citizenship or status as a legal permanent resident of the U.S.

    • 3

      Mail the completed petition, which is completed by the petitioner, the appropriate fee and Form G-325A, the Biographic Information form, which is completed by the applicant, to the USCIS . The USCIS notifies you if the petition is accepted or denied.

    • 4

      Enter the green card lottery, which only is available to persons born in countries that have a low U.S. immigration rate. Visit the U.S. Department of State Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery website to determine if you are eligible to apply and to find out when you can enter the lottery, which only is open for entrants one month per year. Complete the online application for the green card lottery. You have someone who legally and permanently lives in the U.S. sponsor you and agree to support you should you not be able to support yourself once you reside in the U.S.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be aware of exceptions. Stepparents may not petition if their marriage took place after the child was over 18, nor may an adoptive parent if the child was over 16 when adopted or has not resided with the adoptive parent for at least two years prior to the date of the petition. The birth parent of an adopted child is not eligible to petition for that child. Laws are in place that are designed to verify that a marriage is valid and not a marriage of convenience. Grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews may not petition.
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