A green card provides an immigrant with legal status to work and live permanently in the United States. If you are eligible for a green card, the application process can be daunting because of its length and complexity.

Follow these steps to streamline the green card process and seek legal citizenship in the U.S.

Determine eligibility

Green card eligibility consists of seven categories. You may be eligible if one or more of the following are true:

  • You are the spouse, parent, fiancé or unmarried child of a U.S. citizen.
  • You work in certain preference categories, will work as a physician in underserved areas or will create at least 10 jobs as a business investor.
  • You are a religious worker, a member of the media, or an Afghan or Iraqi national who works or has worked for the U.S. government.
  • You hold asylum or refugee status.
  • You are a victim of human trafficking, abuse or neglect or are an abused, abandoned or neglected minor child.
  • You have lived in the U.S. continuously since 1971 or earlier.
  • You fall into another specialized immigrant category.

File for adjustment of status

Adjustment of status means you receive permanent residency. Those in most categories must complete both a green card application and an immigrant petition.

Typically, applicants must first file the immigrant petition, which varies based on category. In some categories, an available visa must exist before you can apply.

When you receive approval of your immigrant petition, you can complete your green card application. Submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Attend follow-up meetings

After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives your application, an agent will schedule you for a biometrics session with fingerprinting and sometimes an interview. Look for a mailed notice of these mandatory sessions.

The agency will send a decision notice, which may take months or longer. They may request additional information before ruling on your case. If you receive a denial for your green card application, you have the right to appeal.