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I really want to return to the USA for a better quality of life than the UK (in my opinion). My situation is very unique and I want to know if I have a chance (or possibly an advantage) to use my former residency as a way to permanently move into the USA...

About me: I first moved to America with my family in 2004 when I was 10 years old, my mother had won the green card lottery and to this day I still have that permanent resident card. We left in 2009 as the economy was in shambles and my dad could no longer run his business, my green card expired in 2014 so it's been 10 years since I lived on US soil and 5 years since the green card expired, this length of absence makes it very unlikely that I can renew the ironically named 'permanent resident card'.

I've been looking at all the visa options and it seems like none of them are available to me, all being specific to a certain situation (students, marriage, family, venture capitalists, ect.)

My first question is: Is there a visa for the 'average Joe' meaning you don't have family in the US, nor a spouse, nor a degree course, nor a job waiting for you, nor butt-loads of money; you merely have a can-do attitude and a modest income (and an engineering degree if that helps), if there is such a thing, how much does it cost and does it make a difference depending on which country passport you hold (mine isn't actually a UK passport but an EU one).

Second question: can I use my social security card to aid the immigration process? before I left at the age of 15, I had actually been working for almost a year (in the state of Georgia you can be legally employed from the age of 14) so I've paid a little bit of tax and social security, gotta be good for something, no?

Final question: this might sound ridiculous, but I want to use every card I've got and I have a 'sort-of' family member currently in the states who has been a citizen for decades, this person is my great aunt and she lives in Texas where I would really like to move (Texas is big and so am I.... tired of bumping my head on tiny English door frames). I would be happy to assist her with whatever she needs (as she is quite elderly) should I be granted entry, would this serve as an advantage to customs? you know... everyone likes someone who is there to help a senior citizen am I right?

And just to wrap up: if there is any sort of detail or legal loophople that I've missed out then please let me know. It seems like permanent migration to the US is as complicated as marine biology. Thank you for whatever info you can provide.

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    Thanks for accepting my answer. I meant to include a suggestion to look for US immigration lawyers and see whether they agree. One thing you certainly don't want to do is to refrain from pursuing this because of my answer and then find out later that I was wrong. – phoog May 20 at 18:23
  • Just to add to phoog's comment, if you are truly motivated enough, you can make it happen. You just have to make some hard decisions, be patient, and presevere. – ouflak May 21 at 6:36
  • On an unrelated note, if you haven't filed I-407 to explicitly relinquish your permanent residency, you are considered a resident alien for US tax purposes, and thus subject to US taxes on your worldwide income, all these years from when you were in the US until now, even though you haven't been in the US for so long and you probably won't be able to enter the US on your green card. – user102008 May 21 at 14:51
  • @user102008 even though he was a minor when he left? What if his parents filed (or were otherwise formally found to have abandoned their residency) before he was 18? – phoog May 23 at 20:48
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Is there a visa for the 'average Joe'?

The only such visa is the green card lottery. If you were born in the UK, you are not eligible, unless you were born in Northern Ireland.

can I use my social security card to aid the immigration process? ... gotta be good for something, no?

Your Social Security card and work history won't help you immigrate. They will help you qualify retirement benefits. I suppose you aren't now qualified to draw Social Security benefits, but the work you've already been credited with will count towards your qualification if you work in the US in the future.

everyone likes someone who is there to help a senior citizen am I right?

This might help you justify longer visits on the visa waiver program or with a B-2 visa, but it won't help you immigrate.

if there is any sort of detail or legal loophole that I've missed out then please let me know.

There is a returning resident visa, but given what you've said in the question, your chance of qualifying is virtually nonexistent. Applying for such a visa is effectively the same as applying to renew your green card, in that it is a claim that you should continue to be a permanent resident, and as you've noted that is very unlikely.

Your best bet is probably to try to find an employer who will sponsor you for an H-1B or other employment-based visa as an engineer, but if you're eligible you'll probably want to enter the lottery each year as well.

But please do not take this as the last word. I am not a legal professional, just someone with a lay interest in immigration law. You may want to see whether you can find an immigration lawyer (some may offer initial consultations free of charge) who might know about some possibility that I do not know about, or at least confirm that your history offers you no special benefit.

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I first moved to America with my family in 2004 when I was 10 years old, my mother had won the green card lottery and to this day I still have that permanent resident card. We left in 2009 as the economy was in shambles and my dad could no longer run his business, my green card expired in 2014 so it's been 10 years since I lived on US soil and 5 years since the green card expired

Your permanent residence (and green card too) expired in 2009 or 2010 right after 6 months from leaving the US. Your previous LPR status doesn't give you any advantages, rather more problems. Any US official could monitor your papers twice because according the US opinion you and your family stilt residence and citizenship for a more motivated candidate.

The questions:

  1. As it was mentioned by phoog, the 'average Joe' immigration visa is the green card lottery.
  2. No. The US immigration system doesn't count your previous professional experience (if it doesn't include a Nobel prize or Olympic gold medal).
  3. American family members could really help because the US immigration system is family-based. But the relatives have to be your siblings, parents, children. The full list is here
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    Education and professional experience can help with employment-based immigration, such as H1-B, both in getting the job and in proving qualifications. – Patricia Shanahan May 22 at 15:00
  • @PatriciaShanahan H1B is a lottery. US companies place applications and some applications win, some don't. The result isn't relevant to skills of an applicant. It could be relevant to company, because some companies get more visas, some less. – Andrey Chistyakov May 22 at 15:05
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    I think it's a bit offtopic but actually skills and education might help in two special cases. Getting H1B visas for government scientific institutions, which's a rare case, and advancing from H1B\L1B to LPR. – Andrey Chistyakov May 22 at 16:37
  • The US immigration system doesn't count your previous professional experience (unless it doesn't include a Nobel prize or Olympic gold medal). This is a bit of an exaggeration. While a Nobel prize is sufficient to be eligible for an O visa, there are other ways to prove your "extraordinary ability". Thousands of people get O visas every year. – MJeffryes May 23 at 9:06
  • You are right about that O-visas have been getting many times. But another systems (like many Europeans or Australian) have taken in the account skills/education of immigrant (foreign worker, sportsmen, student) for the potential visa. At the same time, American system count the same from an applicant (US company, US sport club, US education institution). – Andrey Chistyakov May 23 at 9:19

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