There are two questions you should answer before beginning the application process:

  1. Do you qualify to apply?

People can apply for a Green Card in a variety of ways under US immigration regulations. The standards for qualifying may differ based on the immigrant category for which you are applying. Visit our Green Card Eligibility Categories page to learn more about the various categories you can apply for and the requirements for each.

Obtaining a Green Card through Sponsorship

The majority of persons who apply for a Green Card must fill out two forms: an immigration petition and a Green Card application (Form I-485). Although you may be entitled to apply for yourself in some situations, you will almost always need someone else to file the petition for you (also known as sponsoring or petitioning for you). The following are the most mandatory requirements:

Other petitions include:

Check your eligibility category to discover if a petition is required.

  1. Do you live in the United States or abroad?

If you are qualified for a Green Card, you must decide whether to apply through adjustment of status or embassy processing.

Your destination

Which process to use for application

What to do next

In the United States

Adjustment of status with USCIS

  • File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, if you already have an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa is available.
  • If you don’t already have an accepted immigrant petition, see if you can file the petition and Form I 485 at the same time based on the eligibility requirements for your Green Card category (this is known as concurrent filing).
  • For more information on the process of applying for a Green Card in the United States, visit our Adjustment of Status page.
  • Please watch our video on Form I-485 updates.

Outside the United States

Consular processing with the Department of State of the United States of America

The next stages can be found on our Consular Processing page.

General Application Procedures

The actions you’ll need to follow to apply for a Green Card will differ depending on your situation. However, most applicants will go through the following steps in the application process:

  1. You will almost always need someone to file an immigrant petition on your behalf (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you). You may be able to file for yourself in some instances.
  2. You file a Green Card application with USCIS or a visa application with the US Department of State when USCIS approves the immigrant petition, and a visa is available in your category.
  3. You make an appointment with a biometrics company to give fingerprints, photographs, and signatures.
  4. You attend a job interview.
  5. You get a response to your application.

If your application for a green card with the USCIS is pending,

If you have already filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and your case is still awaiting with USCIS, visit our While Your Green Card Application Is Pending with USCIS page to seek more information on checking your status case, updating your address, and scheduling appointments with USCIS.

How to Track the Arrival of Your Green Card, EAD, and Travel Document?

  1. Create a Case Status Online account to receive automatic case updates, including your USPS tracking number when your card or travel document is mailed.
  2. Sign up for USPS’s Informed Delivery service to receive daily photographs of mail being delivered to you. With Informed Delivery, you can:
  • Automatically track the packages you’re expecting
  • Set up email and text alerts
  • Provide your mail carrier with USPS Delivery InstructionsTM

If your shipment was delivered according to your USPS tracking information, but you have not received it, call your local post office right once. Remember, your card or travel document will be mailed to the address you gave in your application (unless you told us to mail it to your representative on Form G-28, Notice of Entry or Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative).

If your mailing address changes after you submit your application, you must notify USCIS and the US Postal Service as soon as feasible. We recommend using the USPS Look Up a ZIP Code tool to ensure that you provide USCIS with your complete address using USPS-accepted abbreviations and formatting.

If you do not update your address as soon as possible, your case may be delayed, your document(s) may be lost, and you may be required to reapply and pay the cost.

If You are Already a Green Card Holder

If you are a Green Card holder, visit our After a Green Card Is Granted page for more information on travel, card renewal, and your rights and obligations as a Green Cardholder.

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