Official Website of the United States Department of Homeland Security

Green Card for a Refugee

If you were admitted as a refugee, you are required by law to apply for a green card (permanent residence) in the United States 1 year after being admitted as a refugee. For more information on refugees, see our Humanitarian page.   

Eligibility Criteria

You must apply for a green card 1 year after you are admitted to the United States as a refugee if you:

  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being admitted as a refugee
  • Have not had your refugee admission terminated
  • Have not already acquired permanent resident (green card) status

Application Process
To apply for a green card as a refugee, you need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Note: When permanent residency is granted, you will have your adjustment of status date recorded as the day you entered into the United States as a refugee.

Supporting Evidence For Form I-485
To apply for a green card, refugees should submit the following documents and information (in this order):

  • Form I-485, signed (Box "h" of Part 2 should be marked with the word "refugee" printed on the accompanying line)
  • Two photos in an envelope stapled to lower left corner
    • Your name and A-number, if known, should be lightly written in pencil on the back of each photo
    • Details on photo size, etc., may be found on the Form I-485 instructions
  • Form G-28, if applicable, signed by you and the attorney (or authorized representative)
    • Facsimile signature stamps are acceptable for the signature of the representatives
    • However, you must sign the initial Form G-28 submitted with the application in the original
  • Form G-325A
  • Form I-693, signed by you and the civil surgeon, with only the vaccination portion completed
    • You may have the vaccination portion of the Form I-693 completed at any state or local health department or may choose to make an appointment with a civil surgeon designated by the USCIS to conduct medical examinations
    • Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to locate USCIS-designated civil surgeons (doctors) where you live or see the "USCIS Civil Surgeons Locator" page.
  • A complete Form I-693 is required only if:
    • There were medical grounds of inadmissibility noted at the time of arrival in the United States
    • If the refugee status was granted to the individual in the United States by an approved Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
    • If neither of these conditions apply, all that is required is the vaccination portion
    • For more information, see the “Finding a Medical Doctor” page.
  • Evidence of refugee status (This might include a clear, readable photocopy of Form I-94 or a copy of your Employment Authorization Document)
  • Proof of any legal name change you have obtained since you were granted refugee status

Family Application Process
You must prepare a separate Form I-485 application packet for each member of your family who wishes to obtain a green card.  All family members’ application packets should be mailed together in the same mailing envelope. To hold each application packet together, please use a single staple or a paper clip.

Change of Address
If your address changes, you must inform USCIS in writing within 10 days of moving.   This must be done for each family member.  Submitting a change of address for the head of household or a single member of the household only will not change the address for the other family members.  You may meet this requirement by:

  • Mailing Form AR-11, Alien's Change of Address Card, to the address on the form
  • Completing "Step 1" on the form (see the "USCIS Online Change of Address" page.)
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/30/2011