Green Card Process

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Permanent residents are issued a valid Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) as proof of their legal status in the United States. Some people call this a “Green Card.” A Green Card, or Permanent Resident Card, is a permanent visa for USA. Once you have a green card, you may apply for USA citizenship after a few years of staying in the USA. The green card does not affect your present citizenship status. Typically, a green card is issued for 10 years, but it can be renewed by submitting a green card renewal application. Your Permanent Resident Card can be renewed before it expires or if your name changes.

Your Permanent Resident Card shows that you are allowed to live and work in the United States. You can also use your Permanent Resident Card to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad. If you are outside of the United States for more than 12 months, then you will need to show additional documentation to re-enter the country as a permanent resident.

What is necessary to apply the Green Card

If you are immigrating to the United States and will be admitted as a permanent resident, you must pay the USCIS immigrant fee. You pay this fee online through the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) at www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis. Please note that you will not receive your Permanent Resident Card until you have paid the USCIS immigrant fee.

If you became a permanent resident by adjusting your status while you were in the United States, you pay only the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, filing fee and not the USCIS immigrant fee.

If you are a permanent resident who is 18 years old or older, you must carry proof of your immigration status. You must show it to an immigration officer or law enforcement officer if asked for it.

To replace or renew your Permanent Resident Card, you must file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. There is a fee to file Form I-90. You can get this form online at www.uscis.gov or by calling the USCIS Forms Line at 1-800-870-3676.


If you are a conditional permanent resident (CR) through marriage or entrepreneurship, you were issued a two-year card. Do not use Form I-90 to apply for an extension or renewal of your status. Instead, you must file for removal of your conditions before your card expires.