A foreign national may be legally admitted into the United States on a permanent basis if they able to obtain one of several types of permanent residency visas. Permanent residency visas or "green cards" can be petitioned in one of many ways. 1) By a US citizen on behalf of their immediate family members (spouses, parents, children and siblings) who are foreign born, 2) by a permanent resident for their spouses and children, 3) by an employer for their employee, or 4) gained via the lottery system.

The various employment sponsored permanent residency visa categories are as follows:

EB-1 "Extraordinary Ability Visa"

This type of visa is available to three categories of persons.

The first category covers certain multi-national executives and managers who are transferred to the United States. The second category extends to outstanding professors and researchers. To fit into this category, the professor or researcher must be internationally recognized in their field, and the petitioner must meet various employment criteria depending on whether they are public universities or private companies. The third and final category is for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability. There are two ways to qualify. The first is to win a major or internationally recognized award. The second is to satisfy a number of requirements including demonstrated achievement and/or financial success relative to your field.

Ultimately, the USCIS will determine if you qualify for EB-1 status based on your accomplishments; comprehensive documentation will be required.

EB-2 "Advanced Degrees" Visas

There are three types of advanced degree visas. The first covers foreign nationals that are professionals holding advanced degrees (masters or higher). The second covers foreign residents with outstanding ability in the sciences, business, or art. Both also require a job offer from a US company. The third category is for foreign nationals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability that do not have job offers but can show that their activities will benefit the U.S. national interest in some substantial manner.

EB-3 "Professional Workers" Visas

There are three types of professional workers visas. All require that the worker have a job offer from an U.S. company. The first covers "professional workers" with a U.S. bachelor's degree or foreign equivalent degree. The second is for "skilled workers" who are offered a position that requires at least two years of training or experience. And the third category is for "unskilled workers" who have been offered a position that requires less than two years training or experience.

EB-4 "Special Immigrant Religious Worker" Visa

Aliens seeking to enter the United States solely for the purpose of working as a minister or other religious vocation may qualify as a "religious worker." But they must have worked in that religious vocation for at least two years and have been a member of that religious denomination for at least two years. To obtain the visa, they must have a permanent, full-time job offer in the United States with a qualifying religious organization.

EB-5 "Immigrant Investor Program" Visas

In an effort to stimulate economic activity and job growth within the United States, the 1990 Immigration Act set aside visas for foreign nationals (and their immediate family members) who invest substantial amounts of money in this country.

There are two methods for obtaining a green card pursuant to the act. The first is to invest 1 million dollars into a U.S. business (the limit drops to $500,000 if the money is invested in a "Targeted Employment Area" or area with low employment or one that is rural) and create or preserve at least ten jobs for US workers not including the investor or his immediate family.

The second method for obtaining an EB-5 visa is to participate in the regional center program. A regional center is a third party managed investment vehicle. The USCIS must approve both the regional center and the project in order for the visa petition to succeed. Generally speaking, since regional centers exist within "Targeted Employment Areas," the investment may be $500,000, excluding management fees.

The EB-5 visa grants the investor, his spouse and children, conditional permanent resident status for two years. To have the conditions removed and be granted indefinite permanent residence status, an I-829 petition is then required.

And then there is the Lottery system:

DV-1 "Diversity Visas" Lottery

The DV-1 lottery system provides 50,000 visas to immigrants coming from select countries that have not sent large numbers of immigrants through the family-sponsored or employment based categories. The country of the applicant's or their spouse's birth will determine eligibility. Additionally, the applicant must have at least a high school education or have two years experience in a position that requires at least two years training or experience. Applications are then selected at random from each geographic location.

If you're a foreign national looking to obtain a permanent residency visa, it could be in your best interest to speak with an immigration attorney and find out which visa is best for you.

Guest article written by EB5Investors.com. EB5Investors.com is a site for those interested in learning more about the eb-5 visa program and potentially looking for a regional center or immigration attorney.