Green Card – Permanent Resident USA Card in 2023

Do you want to live and work in the US permanently?  You’re eligible for a Green Card if your US employer is willing to sponsor you or you’re marrying a US citizen. Or if you might get lucky by entering the Green Card lottery. Plus there are other pathways that enable you and your family members to become a United States permanent resident. Read this guide to learn about the Green Card rules, find out if you qualify, and how to apply for permanent residency in the US.

Everything you need to know about Green Cards

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is also known as a Permanent Residence Card. It’s the physical proof that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has granted you status as a lawful permanent US resident.

For foreigners, a Green Card allows you to permanently work and live in the United States, in a sustainable manner. 

Two common pathways to gain permanent residency are through employment-based and family-based sponsorship. It’s also possible to get a Green Card through humanitarian programs, by winning the diversity visa lottery, and from individual filing.

US permanent residents are eligible to pursue citizenship.

What are the Green Card Eligibility Rules?

You’re eligible for a Green Card under the following categories:

  • Green Card by winning the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program i.e., the Green Card Lottery
  • Green Card through employment
  • Green Card through family
  • Green Card on humanitarian grounds
  • Green Card through miscellaneous categories

There are sub-categories within each category which have specific eligibility criteria and rules. You can learn more about Green Card eligibility here.

How Do I Enter the Green Card Lottery in 2022 (DV-2024)?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) is better known as the Green Card lottery. The purpose of the DV program is to encourage immigration to the US from countries with low rates of immigration.

Every year 50,000 individuals are drawn at random and offered the opportunity to apply for a Green Card.

To enter the DV lottery you must meet certain criteria. You must register within a specific time window, typically around September-October each year. It’s a slow process! 

The Green Card lottery 2022 (DV-2024) opens late October 2022. After you enter DV-2024, find out if you’ve won mid-2023, then interview and enter the US in from 2023 to 2024.

There’s no cost to register for the DV lottery. But there will be an application fee down the track if you win and apply for a Green Card. The only bona fide place you can register is on the official US Department of State (DOS) registration site, so beware of scams and fraudulent sites.

If you’re one of the lucky winners of the DV lottery, congratulations! And remember you must still go through the application process to obtain a Green Card and pay all required fees. The process to apply for a Green Card is different depending on whether you’re in or outside the US when you apply.

Learn more about applying for the Green Card lottery 2022 (DV-2024) here.

Learn what it’s like to win the DV lottery here.

Am I Eligible for a Green Card Through Employment?

You’re eligible for an employment-based Green Card if your employer is willing to sponsor you and:

  • You have an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, 
  • You’re a professor, researcher, manager, or executive,
  • You have an advanced degree, or
  • You’re a skilled professional.

Am I Eligible for a Green Card Through Family?

You’re eligible for a family-based Green Card if:

  • You’re a spouse, unmarried child under 21 years, parent, widow, or widower of a US citizen, or
  • You’re a child, or sibling of a US citizen. You’re a spouse, child or sibling of a US lawful permanent resident.

Am I Eligible for a Green Card on Humanitarian Grounds?

You’re eligible for a humanitarian-based Green Card if you’re:

  • An asylee, refugee, human trafficking victim, crime victim, victim of abuse, or
  • An individual who qualifies under a specific humanitarian program or category e.g. Cuban Adjustment Act, American Indian Born in Canada.

Am I Eligible for a Green Card Through Individual Filing?

You’re eligible for a Green Card under the following miscellaneous categories:

  • Special immigrants, e.g. religious workers, international broadcasters.

How Much Does a Green Card Cost?

The total cost to get a Green Card varies by filing category, and whether you file from within or outside the US. Fees include:

  • Petition filing fee
  • Application filing fee
  • Biometrics
  • State Department fees for applicants outside the US
  • USCIS immigrant fee for applicants outside the US
  • Plus fees for filing forms specific to your eligibility category

For example:

  • For a family-based Green Card from within the US, the approximate cost is $1760.
  • For a family-based Green Card from outside the US, the approximate cost is $1250.

In addition, there’s the cost of a medical exam with an approved civil surgeon. It’s set by the individual physician and paid to them directly. It can range from $100-$500 but is typically around $200.

Learn more about the cost of getting a Green Card from within the US here.

Learn more about the cost of getting a Green Card from outside the US here.

What is the Green Card Processing Time?

The time it takes to get a Green Card includes the petition processing time, wait time for an interview (if you require one), and processing time for your Green Card application.

Overall it can take anywhere from a few months to several years to get your Green Card. It all depends on where you’re applying from (within or outside the US), and which Green Card category you’re applying under. For some filing categories there’s premium processing for an extra fee to expedite the process.

For example:

  • For an employer-based Green Card application filed in New York City, it takes approximately 17 months to get a Green Card in 2022.
  • For a family-based Green Card application filed in New York City, it takes approximately 16 months to get a Green Card in 2022.
  • For a Green Card by marriage application filed outside the US, it takes approximately 11-17 months to get a Green Card in 2022.

As a recent example, when Josh got his Green Card through marriage here was his timeline:

  • January 4th, 2021: Priority Date (“PD”), also known as a Filing Date
  • March 16th, 2021: Biometrics completed
  • April 9th, 2021: Received notification to schedule interview
  • August 20th, 2021: Interview scheduled
  • September 30th, 2021: Interview completed at the New York field office for the interview (Green Card through marriage).
  • October 5th, 2021: RFE (Request For Evidence) notice received
  • October 8th, 2021: Responded to RFE
  • October 15th, 2021: Notified of new card being produced
  • October 18th, 2021: Green Card approved
  • October 22nd, 2021: Green Card arrived in the mail

Learn more about Green Card processing times for applicants within the US here.

Learn more about Green Card processing times for applicants outside the US here.

How Long is My Green Card Valid For?

Under the Green Card rules, your Green Card is generally valid for 10 years.

However, if you received a Green Card through marriage to a US citizen, you’re initially granted conditional permanent residence status with a Green Card valid for 2 years. You must then apply to remove the conditions before the 2-year expiration date. This requirement is basically to ensure that the marriage is legitimate and long-lasting.

How Do I Get a Green Card?

These are several key steps to getting a Green Card:

  1. File a Green Card Immigrant Petition
  2. Attend a Green Card medical examination
  3. Apply for a Green Card from within the US, or
  4. Apply for a Green Card from outside the US
  5. If you receive a Green Card by marriage: After two years, apply to remove conditions

A.  How Do I File a Green Card Immigrant Petition?

The first part of getting a Green Card is filing an immigrant petition. 

  1. Determine your Green Card eligibility
  • There are several categories under which you’re eligible for a Green Card (see above). Some of the forms you need to file are specific to the category you’re applying under.
  1. Prepare your immigrant petition
  • Most Green Card applicants require a petition.
  • The petition form you need to file is specific to your Green Card category. For example, for an employer-based Green Card the form is I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for a family-based Green Card it’s an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative.
  • The purpose of the petition is to establish who you are in relation to the Green Card category you’re applying under to verify your eligibility. For example, the I-130 petition for a Green Card through family is used to extensively document that a valid family relationship exists between you and the US citizen sponsoring you. It requires information about your family history, the nature and evidence of your relationship, and details of your travel to the US. For a marriage-based Green Card, the petition would also include documents to prove you have a bona fide marriage such as joint bank account and utility statements, photos of vacations and special occasions together, personal correspondence, etc.
  1. From Within US: File your immigrant petition
  • If you apply for your Green Card from within the US, use the Adjustment of Status process to file your petition.
  • You may be eligible for concurrent filing. Concurrent filing means your immigrant petition is filed together with your Green Card application Form I-485, and to the same USCIS location.
  • Only certain petition categories are eligible for concurrent filing. This includes employment-based applicants, and immediate relatives of US citizens living in the US.
  1. From Outside US: File your immigrant petition
  • If you apply for your Green Card from outside the US, you must use Consular Processing to file your petition.
  • So you need to file your immigrant petition first, and for it to be approved before you can file your Green Card application.
  • Concurrent filing is not allowed because your petition is filed to USCIS while your application is filed to the Department of State.
  1. Pay filing fees
  • Filing fees are paid at the same time as you file your immigrant petition.
  • The filing fee depends on your specific petition form. 

Learn more about filing the immigrant petition through Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing here.

B.  How Do I Get a Green Card Medical Exam?

Most Green Card applicants need to take a medical exam. This is required to ensure you satisfy public health criteria and rule out any medical conditions that could make you inadmissible to the US. You’ll receive Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record from the exam which is required for your Green Card application.

  1. Locate a civil surgeon authorized for Green Card medical exams
  • Only a doctor designated by USCIS as a civil surgeon is authorized to perform this examination.
  • Your regular physician likely isn’t authorized. However, you should collect all your vaccination records, blood titer tests, and any other pertinent records and bring them to the exam with you.
  1. From within the US: Schedule a Green Card medical exam
  • If you’re in the US when you apply for your Green Card, you need to attend the medical exam before you submit your Green Card application. That’s because you must file Form I-693 as part of your application.
  • Traditionally the civil surgeon was required to sign Form I-693 no more than 60 days before you filed your Green Card application. However, this requirement is currently temporarily suspended.
  1. From outside the US: Schedule a Green Card medical exam
  • If you’re outside the US when you apply for your Green Card, you attend the medical exam after you submit your application but before your Green Card interview. That’s because you bring Form I-693 to your Green Card interview.
  1. Attend Green Card medical exam
  • Bring your vaccination records and other relevant medical records to your exam.
  • Also, bring your passport, and documents specified for your Green Card application such as the Green Card interview appointment letter for applicants outside the US.
  • During the exam, the doctor will review your medical history and vaccination records, conduct a physical exam, and perform various screenings and tests for drugs, alcohol, disease, and illness, such as x-rays and blood tests. You’ll be administered any mandatory vaccinations.
  1. Pay Green Card medical exam fees
  • There’s a fee for the medical exam set by and payable to the civil surgeon. You might be charged for blood tests and x-rays. These costs aren’t covered by insurance so you must pay out of pocket.
  1. Submit Form I-693 
  • After completing the exam, the civil surgeon will issue you a signed Form I-693 in a sealed envelope. Do not open this envelope under any circumstances. It must remain sealed and it’s required as part of your Green Card application.
  • If you’re applying for a Green Card from within the US, file Form I-693 with your Green Card application. It’s not mandatory to file your I-693 at the same time as your I-485 application. If you require an interview you can instead bring the sealed I-693 with you. However USCIS suggests filing the I-693 with your Green Card application to avoid the potential for an RFE (Request For Evidence).
  • If you’re applying for a Green Card from outside the US, bring Form I-693 with you to your Green card interview. 

Find a Green Card civil surgeon within the US here.

To find a Green Card civil surgeon outside the US, refer to the specific US Embassy or Consulate you’re applying to. Learn more here.

C.  How Do I Apply For a Green Card From Within the US?

If you’re in the US when you apply for your Green Card, the process involves an adjustment of status request with USCIS. The exact forms and supporting documents you need to file depend on which immigrant category you’re applying under. 

  1. Prepare your Green Card application forms
  • The main part of your application is Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • There are additional forms and supporting documents required, including Form I-693 medical exam, and biometrics form.
  • If you need work authorization whilst your application is pending, use Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  • If you need travel permission whilst your application is pending, use Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
  • If you’re applying for a family-based Green Card, use Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • Check the Green Card eligibility category under which you’re applying for other forms you need to prepare.
  1. File your Green Card application forms
  • File your application including the required forms and supporting documents to the USCIS location specified for the petition category you’re applying under. To save time, you can file all forms together with the I-485 but it’s not mandatory.
  • If you’re eligible for concurrent filing, you can file your application and immigrant petition at the same time and at the same USCIS location.
  1. Pay your Green Card filing fees
  • Filing fees are paid at the same time as you submit your application.
  • There are filing fees for specific forms including I-485, I-765, I-131, biometrics.
  1. Attend the biometrics appointment
  • After you submit your application you’ll be notified of your biometrics appointment, typically at an Application Support Center (ASC) nearest to you. At the appointment, you provide fingerprints, photograph, and your signature.
  • Your biometrics are used for various background and security checks .
  1. Prepare documents for the Green Card interview
  • Some Green Card categories require you to attend an interview, such as a Green Card by marriage. In this case, you’ll be notified of your interview appointment, typically at a USCIS office nearest to you.
  • Collate, gather, and organize all the documents required for your interview. The interview is brief and the Officer wants to see you’re organized and able to easily retrieve any information requested. So it helps to do this legwork ahead of time. 
  • If you’re a disorganized person by nature (no judgment!), get help from your spouse or a friend. We all know that one person who’s a Virgo and/or project manager and lives for this kind of stuff. Invite them over, order in some food, and spend a weekend getting your file sorted.
  • Here’s a summary of what Josh (Green Card applicant) and Stacey (US citizen) organized and brought to their interview for a marriage-based Green Card:
    • Passports and social security cards
    • Interview notice
    • I-693 medical notice in an envelope sealed by the Doctor
    • Birth certificates
    • Tax returns
    • Stacey’s financials including W2, 401K/investment accounts showing Josh as beneficiary
    • Josh’s financials including W2, investment accounts showing Stacey as beneficiary
    • Josh’s I-94 and US travel history
    • USCIS notices including work and travel authorizations and RFE
    • Marriage certificate
    • Wedding plans
    • Engagement ring receipt and appraisal
    • Joint lease, contents insurance, utilities statements
    • Joint bank account statements
    • Health insurance policy showing Stacey as policyholder and Josh as dependent
    • Wills, POA, and Health Proxy, naming each spouse as each other’s beneficiary, POA, and proxy 
    • Dog purchase receipt in Stacey and Josh’s names
    • Photos including wedding, joint vacation, travel, and events
    • Personal correspondence including letters, cards to each other, and to/from each other’s family members
    • Evidence of gifts given to each other
    • Evidence of joint travel via receipts
, Green Card – Permanent Resident USA Card in 2023
Here’s Josh’s binder – ready for his interview!
  1. Attend the Green Card interview
  1. Receive notice of approval
  • Track the status of your Green Card application online through USCIS. You’ll be notified if any other information is needed.
  • If you’re approved, you’ll first receive an approval notice. Then a couple of weeks later, your actual Green Card will be mailed to the address on your application.
  1. Notify USCIS of a change of address
  • If you change your address while your application is pending, notify USCIS within 10 days.

Learn more about how to apply for a Green Card here.

D.  How Do I Apply For a Green Card From Outside the US?

If you’re outside the US when you apply for your Green Card, you need to use consular processing. This means you submit your application to the US Consulate or Embassy specified for your location. The exact forms and supporting documents you need to file vary depending on which immigrant category you’re applying under. 

  1. File your immigrant petition and receive approval
  • To apply for a Green Card from outside the US, the first you must do is get your immigrant petition approved.
  • Refer to the section above for filing your immigrant petition.
  • If your petition is approved, USCIS will send your case to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will assign you an immigrant visa number.
  • Track and manage your application through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).
  1. Prepare your Green Card application forms
  • The main part of your Green Card application is Form DS-260 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration.
  • There are additional forms and supporting documents you must file as part of your application, including I-864 Affidavit of Support, civil documents e.g. birth certificate or marriage certificate, passport-sized photos.
  • Check the Green Card eligibility category under which you’re applying for other forms you need to prepare.
  1. File your Green Card application forms
  • File your application including the required forms and supporting documents to the US Consulate or Embassy location specified for the petition category you’re applying under.
  • After the NVC receives your application your case will be transferred to a local US Consulate or Embassy. You’ll be notified of your Green Card interview appointment date.
  1. Pay your Green Card filing fees
  • Filing fees are paid at the same time as you submit your application.
  • There are filing fees for specific forms including DS-260, I-864, biometrics.
  1. Attend a Green Card medical exam outside the US
  • As soon as your Green Card interview is scheduled, you must schedule and attend a Green Card medical with an authorized civil surgeon. 
  • The requirements, what to bring, and what to expect, are the same as for applicants within the US. So refer to the section above for more details.
  • You’ll receive Form I-693 medical certificate which you must keep sealed and bring to your Green Card interview.
  1. Attend your Green Card interview
  • Attend the Green Card interview with any other family members immigrating with you e.g. spouse and children.
  • Bring all documents filed as part of your application including passport, civil documents, petition, application forms, affidavit of support, fee receipts, appointment letter, passports with 6 months validity beyond your intended US entry date, Form I-693, required number of passport photos for each applicant, DS-260 confirmation page, and any other supporting documents lodged with your application.
  • At your interview, an Officer will assess your Green Card application. Your fingerprints will be taken. You’ll be advised if further administrative processing is required. The consular office will process your case and decide if you are eligible for an immigrant visa.
  1. Receive approval and pay immigrant fee
  • If you’re approved for a Green Card, you’ll be given a sealed packet of information known as a “Visa Packet.” Do not open this packet.
  • Pay a USCIS Immigrant Fee to process your immigrant Visa Packet and produce your Green Card. 
  • When you arrive in the US, give your Visa Packet to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  If the CBP Officer admits you, you’ll then have lawful permanent resident status.
  • Your Form I-551 Permanent Resident Card aka your Green Card will be automatically mailed to the US address you write in your visa application form. 
  • Track the status of your Green Card application through CEAC. You’ll be notified if any other information is needed.
  1. When to notify USCIS
  • If you change your address, marital status, or turn 21 while your application is pending, notify NVC because it may affect your Green Card eligibility.

Learn more about how to apply for a Green Card here.

E.  How Do I Remove Conditions for a Marriage-Based Green Card?

If you were approved for a Green Card by marriage to a US citizen, you’ll initially receive a 2-year conditional Green Card. So you must apply to remove the conditions to obtain your 10-year permanent resident card.

  1. Mark your Green Card expiry date on your calendar
  • You must apply to remove their conditions, within 90-day of your conditional Green Card expiry date.
  • It’s critical to apply within this window and life can get pretty busy during those 2 years. So make sure you mark it on your calendar and set time aside to complete the application.
  1. Notify USCIS of a change of address
  • If you change your address during your 2-year conditional period, notify USCIS so that you receive any pertinent correspondence.
  1. Prepare and file Form I-751
  • File Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence to USCIS, 90 days before your Green Card expires.
  1. Attend an interview
  • Some but not all applicants require an interview to remove conditions of their marriage-based Green Card. USCIS will notify you if an interview is required.
  • In 2022, USCIS officers were granted discretionary power to waive in-person interviews under certain circumstances for I-751 Removal of Conditions applicants.

What Questions Will I Be Asked at My Green Card Interview?

Depending on your Green Card eligibility category, you may be required to attend an interview. This includes applicants by marriage to a US citizen and through the DV lottery. The purpose of the Green Card interview is to verify that information in your petition, application, and supporting documents is true and correct. For marriage-based Green Cards, the interview is to verify that the marriage is bona fide.

You’ll (and the person sponsoring your petition, if applicable) will be asked questions about your petition and application.

Here are some commons questions you can expect during your Green Card interview:

  • When did you come to the US?
  • Why do you want to live in the US?
  • What are the circumstances under which you applied for permanent residency?
  • Has anything changed in your life since you submitted your application e.g. work, relationship, marriage?
  • Have you ever been arrested or committed any crimes?

Here are some commons questions you and your spouse can expect during your Green Card through marriage interview:

  • When did you come to the US?
  • Why did you decide to come to the US?
  • How did you meet?
  • How long have you been together?
  • When did you decide to get married?
  • Have you ever been married before?
  • Have you met each others’ families?
  • Have you visited your spouse’s home country?
  • What does each of you do for work?
  • Do you have any other documents to show me?
  • What are your partner’s parents’ names?
  • Where do you partner’s parents live?
  • When did you get married (and all the dates in between)

Tips for Your Green Card Interview

It’s completely normal to feel nervous for your Green Card interview. 

Follow these tips for your Green Card interview:

  • Stay calm and relaxed. The Officer is just doing their job. In most cases, if you’ve been accurate and honest in your application, everything will be fine, and the interview will be straightforward.
  • Be able to succinctly explain your Green Card eligibility.
  • Be familiar with the contents and supporting documents from your Green Card petition and application.
  • Answer the questions honestly. If you’re not sure or can’t remember, say so! 
  • Bring all relevant supporting documents with you, well organized, and refer to them during your interview.

Follow these tips for your Green Card by marriage interview:

  • For a Green Card by marriage interview, you’ll be interviewed at the same time as your spouse. You’ll generally sit side-by-side but won’t be allowed to hold hands, look at each other, or hint to each other in any way (you actually take a legal oath for this).
  • Be able to succinctly explain how you met each other and why you decided to get married.
  • If you’re nervous and can’t remember important dates (even your wedding date—it happens!), be honest and let the Officer know.
  • Bring documents that illustrate your relationship history such as photos of your wedding, vacations, and family visits, and personal correspondence such as cards, letters, emails, direct messages. Be sure to write short descriptions about everything. Bring copies of everything. In many cases the Officer will instruct you to leave a copy of the document/photo with them so you won’t be able to take them home.

What is a Green Card Interview Really LIke?

Josh gives a rundown on the Green Card interview experience for him and his spouse, Stacey:

So we were called in at around 10am for a 9:55am appointment. We handed over our original passports, birth certificates, and a marriage certificate which were all then returned. We then took an oath, and the Officer asked each of us questions about each other. We were seated side-by-side but were instructed not to influence the other’s questions/answers at all. 

The Officer then went back and forth between each of us, with questions including

  • Partner’s name
  • Partner’s birth date
  • Partner’s parent’s names
  • Partner’s parent’s addresses
  • Partner’s current and former employer (and start dates)
  • Partner’s entry dates into the US

None of the fun “Who wakes up first?” kind of questions were asked, just basic things we’d already supplied. I then affirmed all the “Have you committed genocide?” questions (in the negative).

We were then asked to hand over any and all evidence we wanted to supply for our case, so we handed over tax filings, bank statements, lease agreements, credit cards, travel receipts, and insurance documents.

We were then asked to pick 2 of our 40 photos and hand them over as well. All of that was left with the Officer and we didn’t talk through or discuss anything about it.

We were then told that everything looked good and with a couple of extra addendums and filings which would be processed later, we were good to go.

We walked out, and went for cocktails.

For professional assistance, the following legal and immigration specialists are recommended:

Doug Lightman from Lightman Immigration 
Tara Gray from Tara Gray Law
Zjantelle from Cammisa Markel

More Information About the Green Card

Learn more about Green Card eligibility rules and how to apply here.

Tips For Getting a Green Card

We got lucky with the DV lottery. We entered in October 2020 and won on the first try. Maybe it was an easy year to win with so much global upheaval? We found out we won by mid-2021. Then we got our Green Cards in July 2022. The most challenging part was working through the process with our immigration lawyers.

Angie

We won the Green Card lottery. At the interview, most of the questions were about our jobs.

Angie

When we applied for our Green Cards, the USCIS application websites had some technical quirks. There’s a rogue timeout that refreshes the page so SAVE SAVE SAVE. We had an issue with entering a number at the very end. It turns out we needed to delete a few letters from the start of our case number, just for this particular box, but not for any of the other times we had to enter it. If you get stuck on something weird, Google it, as someone else has likely been in the same situation before.

Angie

If you work with an immigration lawyer, get recommendations first so that you work with someone who knows the process, and efficient and responsive

Anonymous

If you’ve had a baby since you applied for your Green Card, bring their birth certificate to the Green Card interview. My son was just 4 months old when we had our interviews and I didn’t think to bring it with me. I was asked to send a copy of his birth certificate.

Anonymous

If you want your Green Card to be issued in your married name, let the Consular Officer know at your interview. Even if you haven’t updated your vital documents with your married name, there’s a possibility they’ll be able to issue your Green Card in your married name

Anonymous

Frequently Asked Questions About Green Cards

Here are some common questions about Green Cards:

What Should I Do When My Green Card Expires?

our Green Card is typically valid for 10 years.

Before the expiry date you must renew your Green Card. Note that your status as a lawful permanent resident remains unchanged even if your card itself expires.

Learn how to renew your Green Card here.

What Should I Do If I Lose My Green Card?

If your Green Card is lost, stolen, or goes through the wash, you need to replace it and notify USCIS immediately.

Learn how to replace your Green Card here.

How Do I Maintain My Green Card?

There are very specific rules about maintaining your lawful permanent residency status.

For instance there are maximum periods you can remain out of the US. This is important to know if you’re planning to travel to other countries for extended periods.

If you violate the rules you could be flagged as having abandoned your Green Card Status. Speak to an immigration attorney if you’re planning to travel from the US to another country frequently or for extended periods.

Learn how to maintain your US permanent residency status here.

Can I Convert From Another Visa to a Green Card?

Yes. From certain visas you can pursue a Green Card.

It’s often assumed that you cannot pursue a Green Card from a nonimmigrant visa status, which is incorrect. There’s a pathway to pursue a Green Card even from a nonimmigrant visa, provided you do so under the correct circumstances.  Speak to an immigration attorney about your situation.

Learn about converting from an E3 visa to a Green Card here.

Are Green Card Holders Able to Become US Citizens?

Yes. There is a pathway for US permanent residents to go through the naturalization process for US citizenship.

Learn about US immigration here.

What Are My Rights and Responsibilities as a Green Card Holder?

As a lawful US permanent resident, you have the right to live and work in the US and be protected by federal and local laws. 

There are some jobs you’re prohibited from such as those that mandate US citizenship for security purposes. Also, you’re unable to become a US President—for that you must have been born in the United States.

You’re required to comply with all federal, state, and local laws. For instance, your tax obligations as a US permanent resident are the same as for US citizens. Learn more about expat tax here.

Do I Need to Disclose My Social Media Handles When Applying for a Green Card?

You may be required to disclose social media accounts as part of your Green Card application and interview. Forms and procedures are being continually revised. 

It’s always important to be careful about what you post on social media if you wish to live and work in the US.

The consular officer at your interview will evaluate all the information you’ve supplied to determine your eligibility for a Green Card. So if any part of your application is at odds with the Green Card requirements (including fraudulent answers and malicious intent), you may be denied. Or worse, you could face legal strife with US authorities.

So be smart about what you post online and be honest in your Green Card application. If you have specific questions about your online footprint, speak to an immigration specialist directly about your situation.

Do I Need Any Vaccinations to Be Eligible for the Green Card?

Yes. Part of being approved for a Green Card includes satisfying public health criteria and ruling out any health conditions that could make you inadmissible to the US. 

There are mandatory vaccines for Green Card applicants. At your Green Card medical exam, the civil surgeon will review your vaccination records and determine any vaccines you require.

Do I need to be present to receive the Green Card in person in the mail from USPS?

Yes, USCIS uses a Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery Service through USPS for all mailed Green Cards and other secure documents. This means that to receive a secure document or Green Card, the recipient must show a photo ID to sign for the secured mail (and be there in person when it arrives). If you miss delivery it can be weeks or months before a re-attempt.

What are My Options If I Can’t Get a Green Card?

There are multiple visas that allow you to visit the US for travel, study, or work purposes. Speak to an immigration attorney about your options.

Thank You for Contributing to This Article

Angie – Australian Green Card lottery winner, living between Hawaii and New York City.