U.S. Permanent Resident Process

The U.S. Permanent Resident process – the status that allows immigrants to live and work in America–  centers on a number of factors. Primary among these are green card eligibility and the green card category.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) outlines the green card eligibility requirements underpinning the permanent resident process: An immigrant must have:

  • Eligibility in one of the immigrant categories established in the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • Qualifying immigration petition filed and approved– though some exceptions are allowed
  • An immediately-available immigrant visa
  • Admissibility into the United States

USCIS information on green card eligibility explains family members, employers or job offers usually provide sponsorship for the green card- permanent residence. Other categories and a number of other special provisions– like an immigrant’s status as an asylee or refugee– also  allow immigrant individuals to apply for a green card.

The category of green card depends on other factors. For individuals who are already in the United States, a green card application is filed as an Adjustment of Status. Consular processing is applied in cases the green card application is filed from outside the United States.

Adjustment of Status is essentially a request to move from nonimmigrant or parolee status to immigrant status.

Consular processing of a green card applications occurs through U.S. Consulate offices in various countries around the world. In these cases, individuals who are granted approval of an immigration petition and who have an immigrant visa number immediately available can apply for admittance into the United States as a permanent resident.

The green card eligibility requirement applies regardless of the application method.

Immigrants considering permanent residency in the United States expedite the process most effectively with a thorough understanding of eligibility requirements and the various green card categories.

Other factors– like Visa availability– also play a role in the U.S. Permanent Resident process. On this, USCIS offers guidance on its “Visa Availability & Priority Dates” page.

USCIS processes green card applications in the order they’re received.