What is the process for obtaining a green card?

In this article, we would highlight the process of getting a green card (permanent residency) in the United States of America.

Getting permanent resident card in the United States

Permanent Residency Card

Obtaining a green card, also known as permanent residency, is a significant step toward living and working in the United States indefinitely. It provides individuals with the legal right to live, work, and study in the country without any time restrictions. 

The process of acquiring a green card is complex and involves multiple pathways, each tailored to specific eligibility criteria. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the intricacies of the green card application process, exploring the various pathways available and the steps involved in achieving permanent residency in the United States.

What is a Green Card?

A green card is an identification card issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to foreign nationals who have been granted lawful permanent resident status. It is officially known as the "Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card," and it serves as evidence of an individual's legal right to live and work in the United States permanently.

Types of Green Card that can be obtained

There are several categories through which foreign nationals can obtain a green card. Each category has specific eligibility requirements and processes. The most common pathways include:

1. Family-Based Green Cards: For close family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, including spouses, parents, children, and siblings.

2. Employment-Based Green Cards: For foreign nationals with specific job offers or outstanding abilities in certain fields.

3. Diversity Visa Lottery:A limited number of green cards are awarded through a lottery system to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

4. Refugees and Asylees: Individuals granted refugee status or asylum in the United States may apply for a green card after meeting certain requirements.

5. Investment-Based Green Cards: For individuals who make substantial investments in U.S. businesses that create jobs for U.S. workers.

The Process of Obtaining a Green Card

The process of obtaining a green card can be lengthy and involves several steps, depending on the chosen pathway. Here is a general outline of the process:

1. Eligibility Determination:
The first step is to determine eligibility for a green card based on the selected category. Each category has specific requirements, and potential applicants must meet them to move forward.

2. Filing the Petition:
Once eligibility is established, the next step involves filing the appropriate petition with the USCIS. The petition may be submitted by the sponsoring family member, employer, or the applicant themselves, depending on the category.

3. Priority Date and Waiting Period:
For certain family-based and employment-based categories, there may be a waiting period due to visa number limitations. The applicant's priority date is established based on the date the petition was filed.

4. Approval and Visa Number Allocation:
If the USCIS approves the petition and a visa number is available, the applicant can move forward with the green card application process.

5. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing:
Applicants in the United States typically go through "Adjustment of Status" to obtain a green card. This process is done within the country. Those outside the U.S. go through "Consular Processing" at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.

6. Biometrics and Interviews:
Applicants may be required to attend biometrics appointments to provide fingerprints, photographs, and other biographic information. Additionally, many applicants must attend an in-person interview as part of the application process.

7. Decision on Green Card Application:
The USCIS will review the application, including supporting documentation, and make a decision on the green card application. If approved, the applicant will be issued a green card.

8. Conditional Residence (if applicable):
In certain cases, such as marriage-based green cards, the initial green card may be conditional. Conditional residents must file a petition to remove conditions before the end of the two-year period.

9. Receiving the Green Card:
Upon approval, the applicant will receive the green card, allowing them to live and work in the United States indefinitely.


Obtaining a green card is a significant achievement that opens doors to a new life in the United States. The process is multifaceted and varies depending on the chosen pathway, with specific requirements and waiting periods for different categories. 

It is essential to understand the eligibility criteria and follow the necessary steps diligently to increase the chances of a successful green card application. Whether through family sponsorship, employment opportunities, the diversity visa lottery, or other avenues, obtaining permanent residency in the United States marks the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of many individuals and their families.

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