How to Obtain Permanent Resident Status

Having a Green Card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card (PDF, 6.86 MB) allows you to live and work permanently in the United States. The steps you must take to apply for a Green Card will vary depending on your individual situation.

Green Card Eligibility Categories

To apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed below. Once you find the category that may fit your situation, click on the link provided to get information on eligibility requirements, how to apply, and whether your family members can also apply with you.

  • Green Card through Family
  • Green Card through Employment
  • Green Card as a Special Immigrant
  • Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
  • Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
  • Green Card for Victims of Abuse
  • Green Card through Other Categories
  • Green Card through Registry

Green Card Processes and Procedures

Green Card Eligibility Categories

Determine if you are eligible for permanent resident status. Review the eligibility requirements needed before applying for your Green Card.

Adjustment of Status

Adjusting your status to a permanent resident is the process immigrants use to get a Green Card while in the United States.

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.

Concurrent Filing

When getting a Green Card through employment, family, or as a special immigrant, someone may need to file a petition 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 and Priority Dates

In general, a visa must be 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. Learn 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 a medical exam. Learn about who must complete a medical exam and the specific forms and procedures that you must follow.

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 some (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 you have the financial means to live in the United States without needing welfare or financial benefits from the U.S. government.

Public Charge

To get a Green Card, most immigrants must show that they will not become a public charge. 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.

Transfer of Underlying Basis

An adjustment of status applicant occasionally prefers to have their pending application considered under a different immigrant category. For more information about transferring, see the USCIS Policy Manual.

To transfer the basis of your pending adjustment of status application to a different eligibility category, you generally must submit a written request to the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the application. USCIS has also established a new location that should be used for submitting transfer requests between employment-based categories. See Green Card for Employment-Based Immigrants, Transfer of Underlying Basis.

More Info from The US Citizenship & Immigration Services