How to get Green Card. Application Process

The steps to becoming a Green Card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States. The main categories are:

    • Green Card Through Family
    • Green Card Through a Job
    • Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status
    • Other Ways to Get a Green Card

Green Card Processes & Procedures

Each Green Card category will have specific steps and procedures to follow. Listed below are some general processes and procedures to help you apply either while in the United States (known as “adjustment of status”) or while outside the United States (known as “consular processing”).

Page Title Summary
Green Card Eligibility Determine if you are eligible for permanent residence. Review the eligibility requirements needed before applying for your green card.
Adjustment of Status Adjusting your status to a permanent resident is the process used by immigrants to get a green card while in the United States. Find out more about the process.
Consular Processing Consular processing is the method immigrants use to get their green card when outside the United States or when ineligible to adjust status in the United States. Find out more about the process.
Concurrent Filing When getting a green card through employment, family or as a special immigrant, you may need to have a petition filed for you.  Concurrent filing is generally when the immigrant petition is filed at the same time you file your application to get a green card. Learn what concurrent filing is and what categories are eligible to concurrently file.
Visa Availability & Priority Dates In general, there must be a visa available for you before you can apply for a green card. In some categories, visas are always available, while in others, there are a limited number. Priority dates are given to immigrants waiting in line to get an immigrant visa and determine when a visa becomes available.  Find out how to tell if a visa is available to you.
Travel Documents Learn more about if and when you can travel outside the United States after applying for a green card or once you have a green card. You can also learn how to apply for advance parole, a refugee travel document, and a re-entry permit.
Employment Authorization Document Learn more about if you are eligible for work authorization in the United States and how to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Immigration Medical Examinations Most applications for a green card require that you go through a medical exam. Learn about who must complete a medical exam and the specific forms and procedures that you must follow when getting a medical exam.
Affidavit of Support An affidavit of support is a form that a sponsor files on your behalf when you are applying for a green card or immigrant visa. It is required for most but not all categories of immigrants before they can become a permanent resident of the United States. The purpose of the form is to show that you have the financial means to live in the United States without needing welfare or financial benefits from the U.S. government. Determine if you need an Affidavit of Support.
Public Charge A public charge is when a person relies on money from the U.S. government to support themselves. Most immigrants must show that they will not become a public charge in order to get a green card. Learn more about public charge.
Child Status Protection Act Your age can determine whether you are eligible for a green card as a “child.” The Child Status Protection Act, often referred to as CSPA, allows certain children who have aged out (become 21 years or older) after an immigrant petition has been filed to still be eligible for a green card through their parents. Learn more about the Child Status Protection Act.

Who is a Green Card Holder (Permanent Resident)?

A Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a “Green Card.” You can become a permanent resident several different ways. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the United States. Other individuals may become permanent residents through refugee or asylee status or other humanitarian programs. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.

Read more about Green Card:

Top reasons a green card might be denied

How to Apply To Renew a Green Card