Having a Green Card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card (PDF, 6.77 MB (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:
Other petitions include:
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.
Where are you?
|What application process to use||Your next steps|
|In the United States||Adjustment of status with USCIS||
Go to our Adjustment of Status page for more information about the process of applying for a Green Card in the U.S.
|Outside the United States||Consular processing with the U.S. Department of State||Go to our Consular Processing page for the next steps|
General Application Process
The steps you must take to apply for a Green Card will vary depending on your individual situation. However, here is the general application process that most applicants will go through:
- 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.
- 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.
- You go to a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photos, and a signature.
- You go to an interview.
- 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.
If You Already Have a Green Card
If you already have a Green Card, go to our After a Green Card is Granted page for more information on travel, renewing a card, and your rights and responsibilities as a Green Card holder.