There are different ways to obtain an immigrant visa (i.e. green card or permanent residency). Permanent residency allows a person to work without any restrictions and to live in the United States on a permanent basis. Most individuals are “sponsored” by an employer (“employer-based immigrant visa) or by a family member (family-based immigrant visa) in the United States. In some situations, an individual can “self-petition” (i.e. file for yourself) for a green card. The United States also “gives” away 50,000 green cards through a diversity lottery program every year. Other individuals may become permanent residents through refugee or asylee status or other humanitarian programs. Green card applications can be lengthy, so most individuals have to maintain some sort of underlying nonimmigrant status (e.g. H-1B/L-1/O-1/E-1/E-2/E-3/P-1, etc.) during the application process.