Cities and Towns in the United States > Expats > Get your U.S. Permanent Resident Card or Green Card


If you want to relocate to the US, one way to actualize this dream is to have a green card. This document gives you access to numerous benefits, including studying and working in this country. Here’s a guide with information on acquiring one, application fees, waiting period, and other vital items you should submit during your application.

Apply for permanent resident card

What is a Permanent Resident Card?

A permanent resident card, popularly known as the green card, is a legal document given to deserving non-US citizens allowing them to live, work, and study in America unrestricted. To avoid inconveniences, individuals accessing America using this card must renew every few years before it expires.

Once you gain permanent resident status, you can access particular benefits that temporary residents and other US visitors do not have. The top perks of getting a green card include:

  • • Access to multiple jobs in America. However, federal jobs are off limits for non-citizens.
  • • Less costly school fees if you choose to pursue higher learning
  • • Permission to move freely and settle anywhere within the country
  • • Easy movement in and out of the country
  • • Protection by the US laws, state, and local jurisdictions
  • • Access to Social Security Services

Obtaining permanent residence comes with a few obligations you must uphold if you want to live in the US peacefully, including abiding by laws of the land, filing all income tax returns, supporting the current government through volunteering and or donating to political campaigns, and signing up for the selective service if you are a male aged between 18 - 25 years.

Examples of Procedures You’ll Be Requested to Present Your Resident Card

When you obtain a resident card, it can be used to identify you as a lawful member of the US. Consequently, you can use this document in essential procedures such as:

  • • Court cases
  • • Contracts and education provisions
  • • At the customs desk, when reentering the country
  • • When stopped by a police officer
  • • At any other moment, you are required to identify yourself to law enforcement officials

Who Can Apply For a Green Card?

The US government is particular about the individuals it allows into the country. Consequently, you must pass an eligibility test before beginning the application process for a green card. You can apply for this residence status if you are:

  • • A close family member to a US citizen
  • • The fiancé, widow, widower, or child of a US citizen
  • • An immigrant worker or investor and a physician of a national interest waiver
  • • A religious worker, special juvenile immigrant, international broadcaster, an employee of a global business or NATO member, Iraq or Afghanistan citizen
  • • An asylee or refugee
  • • A crime and human trafficking victim
  • • A victim of abuse

You can also apply for permanent residence using the registry method if you do not have access using any of the options mentioned above.

Documentation Needed to Apply for a Green Card

When signing up for a green card, you must give every document and fulfill every recommendation required. What are these necessary papers and requirements? We find out below.

To qualify for this status, you should also be a parent, spouse, child, or sibling of a resident or US citizen.

Where and How To Apply

The application option you choose depends on your location. If you are in the US, you may only have to apply for the adjustment of status with the USCIS department. If you are abroad, you are free to take part in the annual green card lottery online or check the US consular processing department. You can also send your application to the US embassy in your country.

Before applying for a resident card, you should determine your reason for immigrating and file the immigrant petition. After receiving the national visa center notification, attend the interview and wait for your visa and green card. Remember to attach the necessary documents and pay the processing fee before applying.

What Happens After You Apply

After submitting the request, you should make a biometrics appointment and wait to be summoned for your medical exam test. You also have to pass an English exam to be granted permanent residence. You will receive notifications from USCIC regarding your application’s status.

Keep an eye on the monthly "visa bulletin" published by the U.S. Department of State. This bulletin outlines priority dates and visa quotas that determine when you can move forward in the application process. For detailed insights into how the visa bulletin impacts your green card application, read our article.

Cost, Validity, And Processing Time

You must pay processing fees to facilitate the process. Each case differs from the next, making it challenging to say how much it will cost. However, you may pay between $475 and $700 for an application, depending on the type of Green card you’re seeking.

If your green card expires, you should visit USCIS to renew the document to avoid inconveniences. You can apply online or send the request via mail.

If you lose your green card or someone steals it, you should apply to have it replaced. The USCIS department nullifies the previous one and gives you a new one. It would help if you considered reporting the matter to the police and immigration office as soon as possible for assistance.

How to apply for a green card