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I am aware of the diversity visa program, and though I am eligible to participate, it is, after all, a lottery... not a sure thing. I am looking for other options that are less of a gamble.

I work in the EU, with an EU citizenship, though was born elsewhere (the country that gives me my diversity eligibility). I work for a subsidiary of an American company and have for over a year.

My significant other has told me that she heard that it is possible to start the process of getting a green card while not actually residing in the US, which would be beneficial to us, as even with an H1B (or possibly a L1B) visa, there is a risk of not being able to finish the process and having to leave the US. With two small children, this is not a risk I would easily take, even though I would be able to get one of these visas.

My question is: What is the process and what are the prerequisites to apply for and get a green card (or other life-long legal residence) while not residing in the US?

I have not been able to find anything relevant online, possibly on account of not knowing the correct terminology.

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    I think the question was quite clear and the most recent edit does not improve it. Having a visa or not is irrelevant (well it might be relevant in the end, depending on US law but it's not relevant to the question), the question is whether there are other routes than entering the country on a H1B/L1B and obtaining a green card afterwards. – Gala May 13 '14 at 15:13
  • Thank you @Gaël - my question is about not living or moving to the US while obtaining a greencard. I would like to know how one can get a green card while living outside of the US, if that is even possible. Gaining a visa implied moving first, so sure, that's an option, but not what I am looking for. – The Seeker May 13 '14 at 15:39
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You can most definitely start your green card process without being in the US. This is what is called "consular processing", as opposed to "adjustment of status" process for those in the US.

This is most widely used for family-based green cards as these are either not limited or the people involved can wait for years for their turn to come.

Employment-based green cards however are usually not done through consular processing, but rather through adjustment of status from L1/H1, since employers don't want to wait for years for their new hires to start working.

If you do find such an employer, or if you qualify for EB1 (for example, you have recently won a Nobel Prize, or you manage a large international group for your employer who wants you to manage it from the US), then you can probably get a consular processing path.

  • "If you do find such an employer" - not sure I follow. What kind of employer, exactly? – The Seeker May 13 '14 at 16:38
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    @littleadv - perhaps you need a new lawyer. I was approved for EB1 in 24 hours. Not a year. – Jeremy Miles May 14 '14 at 5:24
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    @JeremyMiles 24 hours? You have probably misunderstood something. Just I140 will take several months. – littleadv May 14 '14 at 5:35
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    @littleadv - thanks for letting me know about my experiences. You're probably right. – Jeremy Miles May 14 '14 at 13:41
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    I'm sure I am. You don't see how ridiculous your claim sounds? You have a lawyer who prepared and submitted, and then got it approved and got a response, a whole I140 package in 24 hours? If you want to lie - make it believable. – littleadv May 14 '14 at 16:19
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I may have misunderstood the question, especially in light of some comments:

My question is: What is the process and what are the prerequisites to apply for and get a green card (or other life-long legal residence) while not residing in the US?

and

my question is about not living or moving to the US while obtaining a greencard. I would like to know how one can get a green card while living outside of the US, if that is even possible. Gaining a visa implied moving first, so sure, that's an option, but not what I am looking for.

You pretty much always start the process from outside the US. Exceptions are of course if you already have a work/residency permit and want to adjust status, like applying for a green card while on H-1B visa or similar. But you already said that is not what you want.

So to get a real green card (permanent residency) from outside the US, you have two main options: marry an american citizen (I am sure your wife won't like that idea) and to sign up for the greencard lottery. It happens to be that the lottery is open right now, for about 2 more weeks. So hurry upp and apply. Only use the official .gov site, it is free. Don't pay for it.

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