Green Card


  • Green Card

    Having a Green Card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card (PDF, 6.77 MB) allows you to live and work permanently in the United States. The steps you must take to apply for a Green Card will vary depending on your individual situation.

    How to Apply for a Green Card?

    Before starting the application process, there are two questions that you should answer first:

    1. Are you eligible to apply?

    U.S. immigration laws provide a variety of ways for people to apply for a Green Card. The eligibility requirements may vary depending on the immigrant category you are applying under. Go to our Green Card Eligibility Categories page to see all the possible categories you can apply under and what the eligibility requirements are.

    Being Sponsored for a Green Card

    Most people who apply for a Green Card will need to complete at least two forms—an immigrant petition and a Green Card application (Form I-485). Someone else usually must file the petition for you (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you), although you may be eligible to file for yourself in some cases.

    Here are the most common forms:

     • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

     • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

     • Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition

     • Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal

    Other petitions include:

     • Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant

     •Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur

     • Form I-918, Petition of U Nonimmigrant Status

     • Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant

    Refer to your eligibility category to see if you need a petition.


    2. Are you inside or outside the United States?

    If you are eligible to apply for a Green Card, you then need to determine which process to use – adjustment of status or consular processing.


    Inside the United States

    What application process to use... Your next steps                    
    Adjustment of status with USCIS  • If you already have an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa is available, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, or

     • If you do not currently have an approved immigrant petition, check the eligibility requirements for your Green Card category to see if you can file the petition and the Form I‑485 together at the same time (this is known as concurrent filing).


    Outside the United States

    What application process to use... Your next steps                    
    Consular processing with the U.S. Department of State • Once you are the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, there are two ways to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a Green Card). If you are outside of the United States, you may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. This pathway is referred to as consular processing.