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Green Cards and Permanent Residence in the U.S.

Learn how to get a Green Card to become a permanent resident, check your green card case status, bring a foreign spouse to live in the U.S. and what documents you need when traveling back to the U.S. Also, find out how to enter or check your results for the Diversity Visa Lottery program.

On This Page

  • Apply for, Renew, or Replace a Green Card
  • Authenticate Documents
  • Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program
  • Sponsor a Foreign Spouse, Future Spouse, or Relative
  • Travel Documents for Foreign Residents Returning to the U.S.

Apply for, Renew, or Replace a Green Card

  • Gives you official immigration status in the United States
  • Entitles you to certain rights and responsibilities
  • Is required if you wish to naturalize as a U.S. Citizen

Apply for a Green Card

  • Find out if you’re eligible.
  • If you are eligible, file Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, including all supporting documents and fees.
  • USCIS will review your application and schedule an interview with you.
  • Once issued, your Green Card will be valid for 10 years.

Renew or Replace a Green Card

Learn how to renew or replace your Green Card:

  • Renew your Green Card if your current card expired or will expire in the next six months.
  • Replace your Green Card for a number of reasons, including loss or theft.

Check Your Case Status

  • Go online to check the status of your case using your receipt number.

Beware of Scams

If you are not familiar with the immigration, visa or Green Card process, scammers will try to take advantage of you by getting your personal information or your money. Learn about common immigration scams and identity fraud. You can also file a complaint in your state.

Authenticate Documents

You may need to present a legal document issued in the United States for use in another country. These documents can include court orders, contracts, vital records, and educational diplomas. To verify signatures, stamps, or seals on these documents, they must be authenticated.

The process to get a document authenticated depends on the specific document, the state in which it was issued, and other factors. Check with your state’s document authentication agency. Also, visit the Authentications and Apostilles pages from the Department of State (DOS).

For more information, details on a procedure, or status, call the DOS Office of Authentications at 1-202-485-8000. Phone hours are from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Appointment hours are from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET, Monday through Friday.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program

The United States’ Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Lottery program allows for up to 50,000 immigrant visas to be awarded each year. It gives foreign nationals of countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S. an opportunity to participate in a random drawing for the potential of getting an immigration visa. Check the State Department’s DV lottery site to learn more about the program.

Eligibility Requirements

Also known as the Green Card lottery, the DV program makes a limited number of immigrant visas available every year to people meeting certain eligibility requirements:

  • You must be a foreign citizen from a country with a low immigration rate to the United States. Each year, the U.S. Department of State puts out a list of eligible and ineligible countries. The list of countries may change each year. See the 2022 DV lottery instructions for the most recent list.
  • You must have graduated from high school or its equivalent or have qualifying work experience.

Participating in the Lottery

The lottery is open once a year, usually for 4 to 5 weeks in the fall.

  • Online registration for the 2022 Diversity Visa Lottery began on October 7, 2020 at 12:00 PM ET, and ended on November 10, 2020 at 12:00 PM ET.
  • If you qualify for a Green Card, 2022 is the year you can enter into the United States.
  • Complete the online application for the lottery. It is a web form only and cannot be downloaded. There is no charge for registering.
  • Keep your confirmation number in a safe place; you will need that number to check the status of your entry online. If you lose it, you can recover your confirmation number.

For help, review the DV lottery instructions or watch a State Department video on how to submit an entry.

DV Lottery Results

  • Results for the 2021 DV lottery are available. The 2021 results are available through September 30, 2021. The 2022 results will be available beginning May 8, 2021 through September 30, 2022.
  • Make sure you have your confirmation number to check your application status. You can only check your status by going online. The State Department will not send you a letter or an email about winning a Green Card. See the fraud warning below.

If You Are a DV Lottery Winner

If you are selected through the random lottery drawing, you can move forward in applying for an immigrant visa (Green Card).

  • Submit your visa application, DS form 260.
  • Prepare for your interview.
  • If you have a question about your interview, call the Kentucky Consular Center, 1-606-526-7500, 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM ET.

Fraud Warning

The State Department wants DV lottery participants to know about scams involving fraudulent email and letters sent to DV program applicants. The U.S. government is the exclusive operator of the DV program. It may send you an email reminding you to check the status of your entry, but it will not contact you by email or letter to let you know if you are a winner. You have to check online yourself. The U.S. government will also never ask you to pay for your visa in advance by wire transfer, money order, or check.

Sponsor a Foreign Spouse, Future Spouse, or Relative

Your status determines who you can bring (sponsor) to live and work in the United States.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor:

Certain immediate relatives, such as parents or siblings

If you are a permanent resident, you can sponsor:

If you are a refugee or asylee within the past two years, you can petition for certain family members to obtain refugee or asylee status.

If you or a member of your family is in the U.S. military, you may petition for citizenship for family members.

Travel Documents for Foreign Residents Returning to the U.S.

You may need additional documents to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad if:

You are a foreign citizen living in the U.S. or

You have a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)

These necessary documents should be obtained before your trip. You can get them from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Permanent and Conditional Residents

If you’re absent from the U.S. for one year or longer:

For permanent residents, the re-entry permit is valid for two years from the date of issue.

For conditional residents, it is valid for up to two years.

If you’re absent from the U.S. for less than one year:

No additional document is required.

Show your Green Card upon your return.

All Other Foreign Citizens Living in the U.S.

Contact USCIS and your country’s embassy or consulate for all document requirements.

Note: If you need a travel document, but left the U.S. without obtaining one, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for assistance:

United States: Call 1-800-375-5283; for TTY dial 1-800-767-1833

Do you have a question?

Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They’ll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.

Learn how to get a Green Card to become a permanent resident, check your green card case status, bring a foreign spouse to live in the U.S. and what documents you need when traveling back to the U.S. Also, find out how to enter or check your results for the Diversity Visa Lottery program.

How To Apply For Funding

Watch the NLC website, the print media and major radio stations for adverts calling for applications for grants in the sector that is relevant to your organisation.

Calls for applications are also announced during the live broadcasts of the Lotto draw.

Distributing agencies for the various sectors make their calls at different times.

Each agency tries to make one call a year, but extra calls can be made.

You can only make an application when a call for applications has gone out.

Application Documents

Obtain the necessary documents from the NLC. These are:

The prescribed application form. This changes from time to time and you must use the form that is current at the time of the call for applications.

Guidelines applicable to the current round of applications.

You can also download the documents from the website (only available when a call applications has been published), or obtain them from the NLC offices around the country.

Project Motivation, Plan And Budget

Use the guidelines to prepare the following documents that will accompany the application form and comprise the heart of your application:

A project motivation that explains the importance of the initiative for which you are seeking funds.

A detailed business plan for the project.

A detailed and realistic budget for the project.

Supporting Documents

The application must include the following supporting documents:

Registration certificate as a non-profit organisation, Section 21 company, public benefit trust, or school registered with the Department of Education.

The organisation’s constitution, articles and memorandum of association, or deed of trust.

– Organisations that have not previously received NLDTF funding are required to submit a two year annual financial statements signed by an independent accounting officer.

– Organisations previously allocated NLDTF funding need only to submit financial statements for one year, which must be audited.

Signed auditor’s report or, for first time applicants, a signed accounting officer’s report.

Additional Documents

Where an application is related to the development or renovation of a heritage site, you must submit an approval from the relevant provincial or national authority.

Where an application includes the building or upgrading of infrastructure, you must provide proof of ownership of the land and/or building or proof of tenure.

Where an application involves the purchase of assets or equipment, quotations must be provided for these items.

Please read the guidelines carefully and ensure that all the required information is submitted.

In addition, you should try and get your application in as early as possible once a call is issued.

How To Apply For Funding Watch the NLC website, the print media and major radio stations for adverts calling for applications for grants in the sector that is relevant to your organisation. ]]>