For those who have made their careers or have been employed with certain international organizations that operate worldwide, there is a path to a United States green card if the applicant follows a certain set of guidelines before submitting their I-485 application.

The following organizations are part of U.S. immigration law when it comes to recognizing international employees that may be eligible for a green card in the United States:           

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • The World Bank
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • The Inter-American Defense Board (IADB)
  • United Nations Permanent Observer Missions
  • International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) 

Unlike a normal path to a green card in the United States, employees of these organizations need to have spent at least 50 percent of their time in the last 7 years before applying for an adjustment of status. In order to verify such information, applicants should look to all of the trips they have taken, and where they have taken up residence inside the United States to see if the total time they have spent in America before filing their I-485 application equals to at least 3.5 years. For many who have taken business trips quite frequently but have made the U.S. their home, this quota will be easy to pass.

In addition, such international employees need to have at least 15 years combined or total residence inside the U.S. before they have retired from such an international organization. Because green card interviews will be conducted in the same fashion they were with other applicants, meaning a standard interview with a USCIS official, it is a good idea for such employees to gather as much information (mortgage payments, rent payment receipts, etc.) to prove their continuous residence history in the U.S. that will add up to an overall 15 years.

Note: Spouses of employees/retired staff of an international organization can also apply for an adjustment of status in the United States, and also need to prove that they have been in the U.S. for at least 3.5 years out of the last 7 in the immediacy before filing their I-485 and, if their spouse has died, that they have 15 years of continuous residence in the U.S. before the death of their partner.  

For widows in such an instance, they will also need to fill out their Form I-360 no later than six months after their partners death (regardless of when they file their I-485). The I-360 is a petition for “Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant Category”. The form allows petitioners to only fill out the part that is pertaining to them. In other words, those responsible for this form should scroll to the appropriate section and fill out the part that reads “Complete if Filing as a Widow/Widower” but not any other part that is solely for Special Immigrants, for example.  

Other Considerations

For employees or recently retired members of international organizations, the most testing part of this process will not be filling out the paperwork or submitting ones I-485 application, but most likely the green card interview, where applicants tend to forget key pieces of information. Such applicants should be able to summarize the nature of their work and travel schedules, and how they were principally based in the United States for the majority of their career. For active employees who are based in the U.S., it is also not a good idea during the I-485 process in general to plan business/work related trips as having to reschedule Biometrics and/or Medical related appointments can cause significant backlogs in ones application process.

I-485 Adjustment of Status International Organization