A green card allows an individual to permanently live and work in the United States. If you are eligible for this document, you must follow the application process carefully to successfully receive green card status.
Follow these steps to apply for permanent U.S. residency when you are already living in the country.
Select your eligibility category
The green card process varies based on your eligibility category. You may be eligible as a family member, employee, refugee, crime victim or a member of another group.
File an immigrant petition
Depending on your category, you may be able to file your own petition. Otherwise, a family member or employer must file one on your behalf as applicable.
Check visa availability
The U.S. Department of State allocates a limited number of visas by category. Generally, you must wait until a visa becomes available in your category before moving forward with the green card process.
Complete and submit your green card application
Apply using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form requires a filing fee of $1,225 for those ages 14 to 78. You must also submit specific documentation to support your application depending on your eligibility category.
Visit the Application Support Center
After submitting Form I-485, you will receive notice of a scheduled appointment at your local Application Support Center. At this appointment, you will provide fingerprints and undergo required security and background checks.
Provide additional documentation
Some applicants must attend an interview. Others will receive requests for additional evidence and documentation. You must resolve these requests before application approval or denial.
Green card applicants receive a written decision notice. The application process takes between seven and 38 months depending on the circumstances of your request. If you receive approval, you will later receive your conditional Permanent Resident Card, which provides two years to resolve the conditions of your approval. Otherwise you must renew your green card every 10 years. If you receive application denial, you can appeal your case with the U.S. Department of State.