How to Apply for a Green Card in the U.S.

Many people want to gain residence in the U.S. because of many reasons. Some of the most popular reasons being that it has a vast number of legal opportunities and it has a better education and work system than many other countries.

If you’re one of the interested persons, this blog about How to Apply for a Green Card in the U.S. has what you need.

How to Apply for a Green Card

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

1. Are you eligible to apply

U.S. immigration laws provide different ways for people to apply for a Green Card. The eligibility requirements may differ depending on the immigrant category you are applying under. Visit our Green Card Eligibility Categories page to view 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). Usually, someone else must file the petition for you (often referred to as petitioning or sponsoring for you), although you may be eligible to file for yourself in some cases. Listed below are the most common forms:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
  • Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
  • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
  • Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal

Other petitions include:

  • Form I-918, Petition of U Nonimmigrant Status
  • Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
  • Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
  • 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 establish which process to use – adjustment of status or consular processing.

General Application Process

The steps you must take to apply for a Green Card change depending on your individual situation. However, below is the general application process that most applicants will go through:

  1. Someone usually must file an immigrant petition for you (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you). In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.
  2. After USCIS approves the immigrant petition, and there is a visa available in your category, you file either a Green Card application with USCIS or a visa application with the U.S. Department of State.
  3. You go to a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photos, and a signature.
  4. You go to an interview.
  5. You receive a decision on your application.

If Your Green Card Application Is Pending with USCIS

If you already submitted a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and your case is pending with USCIS, go to our While Your Green Card Application Is Pending with USCIS page for more information on checking your case status, updating your address, and making appointments with USCIS.

How to Track Delivery of Your Green Card, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and Travel Document

  1. Sign up for a Case Status Online account to get automatic case updates, as well as your U.S. Postal Service (USPS) tracking number once we mail your card or travel document.
  2. Register for Informed Delivery through US Postal Service to get daily images of mail being sent to you. With Informed Delivery, you can:
  • Automatically track the packages you are expecting
  • Set up email and text alerts
  • Enter US Postal Service Delivery Instructions™ for your mail carrier

If your USPS tracking information shows your package was delivered however you have not received it, contact your local post office immediately. Remember, we’ll mail your card or travel document to the address you provided on your application (unless you told us to mail it your representative on form G-28, Notice of Entry or look as Attorney or Accredited Representative).

If your mailing address changes when you file your application, you must update your address with USCIS and USPS as soon as possible. We suggest you employ the USPS Look Up a ZIP Code tool that you that you simply provide USCIS your full address using the standard abbreviations and formatting recognized by USPS.

If you don’t update your address promptly, your case could be delayed, your document(s) could get lost, and you’ll need to reapply and pay the fee once more.

If You Already Have a Green Card

If you already have a Green Card, visit our After a Green Card is Granted page for additional information on travel, renewing a card, and your rights and responsibilities as a Green Card holder.

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