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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.

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 the 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

Get familiar with the immigration, visa, or Green Card process. This can help protect your personal information and money against scammers. Learn about common immigration scams and how to identity fraud, or file a complaint in your state.

Authenticate a U.S. Document for Use in Another Country

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 page from the Department of State (DOS).

If the country in which you are presenting your documents is a member of the 1961 Hague Convention, you can get an apostille. An apostille validates seals and signatures of officials on public documents. Apostilles authenticate birth certificates, court orders, and many other documents. Learn more about apostilles and how they are issued.

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. Typically, appointment hours are from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET, Monday through Friday. However, due to COVID-19, the Office of Authentications is not accepting in-person appointments at this time.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card Lottery)

The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program allows for up to 55,000 immigrant visas to be awarded each year. Foreign nationals of countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. can participate in a random drawing for the potential of getting an immigrant visa (Green Card). Check the State Department’s Diversity Visa site to learn more about the program.

Diversity Visa Lottery Eligibility 

The DV Lottery, also known as the Green Card Lottery, 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 2023 DV lottery instructions for the most recent list.
  • You must have graduated from high school or its equivalent or have qualifying work experience.

How to Register for the Diversity Visa Lottery 

Registration for the 2023 Diversity Visa Lottery ended on November 9, 2021.

  • If you registered for the 2023 lottery, keep your confirmation number in a safe place; you will need that number to check the status of your entry online.

Check Diversity Visa Lottery Results

  • Check the results for the 2022 and 2023 DV lotteries. The 2022 results are available until September 30, 2022. The 2023 results are available until September 30, 2023.
  • You must remember to check the lottery results yourself online, using your confirmation number. The State Department will not send you a letter or an email to let you know if you have been selected. See the fraud warning below.

If You Are a Diversity Visa Lottery Winner

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

Diversity Visa Lottery 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 have been selected. 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 have been 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)

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

Travel Documents for Permanent and Conditional Residents

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

 

Travel Documents for 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:

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Last Updated: May 18, 2022

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