US Green Card Application Process Guide 2023
A green card is also sometimes called a permanent resident card. It is the document you receive when you become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Permanent residence is a type of immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to live and work lawfully in the United States. Green card holders can also become U.S. citizens after three or five years of permanent residence status. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for approving green card applications.
To live and work permanently in the United States you will need to have a green card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card). You can apply for a green card through your family, employer, and for other reasons. The steps to apply for a Green card are depending on your situation. This process can take a long time, but the reward is great.
- Green Card through Family
- Green Card through Employment
- Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
Green Card through Family
This is one of the most popular and simple ways to get permanent residency in the United States. If you’re directly related to a citizen of the United States then their law allows him to petition for you to be able to live in the US.
Immediate Relatives of U.S citizens:
- Spouse of a U.S Citizen
- Unmarried child under the age of 21 of U.S citizen
- Parent of U.S citizen who is at least 21 years old
- Fiance of a U.S citizen
- Widow or widower of a U.S citizen
- VAWA self-petitioner-victim of battery or extreme cruelty
Green Card through Employment
This category is divided into many subcategories, in this category green cards are issued for the purpose of a job, investment, or having a specialized job.
- Applicants have extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- Member of a profession that requires an advanced degree
- A skilled and unskilled worker
- A physician who agrees to work full-time in clinical practice.
- Investors who invest at least 1,050,000$ in a new commercial enterprise in the United States
Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
The U.S. welcomes thousands of refugees each year, Refugees or Asylees can apply for a green card after 1 year of entering the country. If you’re a refugee and living in the United States for 1 year then you will need to apply for permanent status, and if you’re an asylee then it is not mandatory.
How to Apply for a Green Card
Before starting the application process, there are two questions that you should answer first:
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 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:
To apply for a green card applicants will need to complete at least two forms an Immigrant Petition and a Green Card application (Form I-485). It is better that someone else file the petition for you but in some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.
- After USCIS approves the petition and confirms that the visa is available in your category, you file either a Green Card application with USCIS or a visa application with the U.S. Department of State.
- Then you need to provide fingerprints, photos, and a signature for a biometrics appointment.
- You go to an interview.
- You receive a decision on your application.
Most Common Form
- 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
- 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
The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program allows for up to 55,000 immigrant visas to be awarded each year. Foreign nationals of countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. can participate in a random drawing for the potential of getting an immigrant visa (Green Card). Check the State Department’s Diversity Visa Program website to learn more about the program.