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.
Apply for, Renew, or Replace a Green Card
A Green Card (Permanent Resident Card):
If you have questions about applying for, renewing, or replacing a Green Card, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Apply for a Green Card
Renew or Replace a Green Card
Learn how to renew or replace your Green Card:
Check Your Case Status
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.
You can 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.
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 and the Authentications and Apostilles page 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, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM - 3:00 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.
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 2021 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 2021 Diversity Visa Lottery began on October 2, 2019, and ended on November 5, 2019.
- If you qualify for a Green Card, 2021 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
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).
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:
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.
If you have a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), or are a foreign citizen living in the U.S., you may need additional documents to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad. Obtain these necessary documents from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your trip:
Permanent and Conditional Residents
- Absent for one year or longer:
- Absent 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 United States without obtaining one, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for assistance:
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Last Updated: October 7, 2019