Self Petition Green Card

Applying for a green card typically requires having a job offer from a US sponsoring employer. However, the green card through self petition category does not require the applicant to have a job offer from an employer. There are several criteria, benefits and categories which make you eligible for the National Interest Waiver. There are two classifications of immigrants who may apply for green card through self petition, which include:

  • Individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (E11)
  • Individuals who were granted a National Interest Waiver (E21)

Individuals applying for green card through self petition may be required to submit documents that provide supporting evidence of their accomplishments in their field.

Benefits of Self Petition

The benefits of this category include:

  • Ability to file own petition for green card
  • No need to obtain a job offer from a sponsoring employer

Eligibility for Green Card through Self Petition

Eligible applicants for the green card through self petition category must:

  • Possess extraordinary ability in the field of arts, science, education, business, or athletics or have been granted a National Interest Waiver.
  • Hold a valid passport.
  • Provide supporting evidence as required.
  • Not be sponsored by an employer. In that case, they would have to apply under the Employment Based category for green card.
  • Demonstrate they will serve the national interest to a greater extent than any available US workers with the same qualifications.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

The NIW is a category where qualifying individuals are waived of the requirement for obtaining a labor certification or in other words sponsorship from a US employer because the individual’s employment in the US would substantially benefit the nation. The NIW eliminates the additional processing time of 6-18 months that is usually standard of employment based categories that require obtaining a labor certification.

Qualified NIW applicants must demonstrate that:

  • They are notable individuals who are qualified enough to seek permanent resident status in the US.
  • It is in the national interest of the US to grant legal status to such individuals so they may work permanently.

Applying for Green Card through Self Petition

Eligible applicants for green card through self petition may apply for permanent residency through one of two ways:

  • Consular Processing: Applying while living outside the US.
  • Adjustment of Status: Applying while living in the US.

Consular Processing

Applicants may apply for permanent residency through consular processing if they are living outside of the United States. Consular processing usually follows the course outlined below.

  • Identify your immigration category: Individuals must identify their immigration category and file Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker.
  • Wait for a decision on your petition: USCIS will notify you (the petitioner) of its decision on your application. In the event that the petition is denied, USCIS sends a notice stating the reasons for denial and any information regarding the rights to appeal the decision. If your petition is approved, USCIS will send your case to the Department of State’s National Visa Center also known as the NVC. Your case will remain at the NVC until the availability of an immigrant visa number.
  • Wait for a notification from the NVC: You will receive a notice from the NVC stating that your petition has been received and notifying you of when your immigrant visa number is available. You will also be notified of the processing fees and additional documents that must be submitted.
  • Attend your visa interview: You will be scheduled for an interview at the consular office once your immigrant visa number is available. At the interview, your application will be processed and you will be notified of whether your case has been approved, denied, or requires further administrative processing.
  • Receive your visa packet: Once you are granted an immigrant visa, the consular officer will provide you with a visa packet that should be given to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry. After being admitted into the US, you will receive your green card by mail within 45 days.

Adjustment of Status

Applicants may apply for permanent residency through adjustment of status if they are living in the United States. Applying through adjustment of status typically follows the outlined course below.

  • Identify your immigration category: Individuals must identify their immigration category and file Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker.
  • Check visa availability: Once an immigrant visa is available in your category, you will be eligible to file Form I-485.
  • File form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status, along with all of the required supporting documentation.
  • Biometrics collection: You will be notified to appear at an Application Support Center in order to get your biometrics collected. This usually consists of getting your picture, signature, and fingerprints taken.
  • Appear for interview (if applicable): You will be notified of the time, date, and location of an interview that you must complete before the decision of your application. You will be required to answer questions about your case under an oath. You must carry original copies of all required documents.
  • After completion of all the necessary steps, you will receive a final decision in your mail.

For further details about applying for permanent residency, visit the following pages:

Learn more about the green card through self petition categories by visiting EB-1A Extraordinary Ability and EB-2C National Interest Waiver.