How to Get a US Green Card

Lawful Permanent  Resident

A green card is issued to immigrants to the United States as they are granted permanent resident status.  Once you have been issued a green card, then you no longer have to apply for separate work visas if you get a new job, nor do you have to apply for travel visas.  However, you are now responsible for paying income taxes, registering for the selective service, and also being sure to renew your green card.  You'll also receive a social security card from the government.  There are multiple paths to lawful permanent resident status, and this article will outline what those ways are.  


A lot of green cards are granted through the family sponsorship program.  Family members of United States citizens may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status.  These people include spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and the parents of someone petitioning for citizenship in the United States.  If you are a family member of someone who already holds a green card, then you are also eligible to apply.  A more thorough look at who exactly qualifies is available at  


You are also able to apply for a green card based on certain work that you might be doing.  If you have a job offer from an American corporation, that corporation is able to sponsor you for lawful permanent resident status.  You can also be eligible for your green card if you are investing in a corporation as an entrepreneur that will create American jobs. An employer will use from I-140 to petition for an alien worker to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Of additional interest is those who are deemed an "alien of extraordinary ability" is able to self-petition the United States for permanent resident status.  These are people who are considered to be the best of the best in their field, and that it would be in the national interest of the United States to have them living within our borders. You may also be eligible depending on certain work experience that you have that could be of use to the United States.  These jobs, as well as a more detailed look at how you might fit into these categories is again available at


Asylees and Refugees

If you have entered the United States after being granted asylum or refugee status, then one year after you've been granted that status you are eligible to apply for permanent resident status in the United States.  As a refugee, you are required to apply for permanent resident status one year after entering the country, but as an asylee, you are not.  

Applying from Within the Country

If you are applying for your green card while living in the United States, you will be adjusting your status and not applying fresh.  In most cases, you will need whoever is sponsoring your application to file their sponsorship of you concurrently with your petition for a change in the status of your immigration.  You will need to file a form I-485, and you will not be able to do that until a visa is available in your category.  You'll then be fingerprinted, go through an interview, and then receive your final decision in the mail.  

Applying from Outside the Country

The process for applying from outside the country at a United States consulate, the proper forms change based on what category you will be applying under.  It is also important that you check your eligibility to immigrate as the process begins.