There are many different methods to obtain permanent residence in the United States. Regardless of the route chosen, the result is the same: a “green card,” giving the holder the right to live and work freely in the US without the worries and restrictions of expiration deadlines, visa renewals, job-related petitions, etc.
All “green card” holders are essentially equal in the eyes of the law, enjoying the same rights and responsibilities, regardless of how that permanent residence was obtained. Spouses and minor children are usually able to immigrate and obtain “green cards” at the same time as the principal new permanent resident.
The decision to seek permanent residence, and the selection of the most appropriate route both depend upon a number of factors, including the nationality, education, and past and projected employment of the individual involved.
Having a close family relationship with someone already established in the US as a permanent resident or a citizen is only one of the possible ways to obtain green card status.
Permanent residence through an individual’s job-creating investment, as a religious worker, or through political asylum is not discussed here.