The U.S. Department of Human Services reported the United States granted around 740 green cards in 2021.
Obtaining a green card in the United States is a significant step toward achieving permanent residency status. The process may seem daunting, but with the right information and guidance, you can navigate it successfully.
Do an eligibility check
Before you begin the application process, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for a green card. There are several categories under which you can apply, such as family-sponsored, employment-based and refugee or asylee status. Review the specific requirements for your category.
File a petition
The first step varies depending on your category. If you are applying through a family member, they may need to file a petition on your behalf. For employment-based green cards, your employer may be responsible for submitting a petition. Ensure that you include all required documentation with the petition.
Receive priority date
For family-sponsored and employment-based categories, immigration authorities will assign a priority date once they approve the petition. This date determines your place in the visa queue, but be aware that wait times can vary significantly depending on the category and your country of origin.
Wait for a visa number
Due to annual visa limits, you may need to wait until a visa number becomes available. Your priority date will determine when you can move on to the next step. Keep track of visa bulletin updates to stay informed.
File Form I-485
Once a visa number is available and your priority date is current, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is your official application for a green card. Ensure you include all required supporting documents to avoid delays.
Complete the biometrics appointment
After submitting Form I-485, you may have to attend a biometrics appointment. This involves fingerprinting and photographing for background checks. Cooperate fully with this process.
Attend an interview
For some applicants, an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is necessary. Be prepared to answer questions about your application and eligibility. Provide truthful and accurate information.
Complete the medical examination
You will likely need to undergo a medical examination by an approved USCIS doctor to demonstrate that you do not have any health conditions that could pose a public health risk.
Receive a decision
USCIS will review your application, conduct background checks and make a decision regarding your green card. You will receive a notice of approval or denial. If you receive an approval, you will get a green card. Make sure to review it for accuracy and report any errors promptly.
Once you have a green card, it is important to abide by all U.S. laws and regulations. Keep your green card valid by renewing it as necessary and be aware of any travel restrictions.