The steps to becoming a Green Card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States. The main categories are:

  • Green Card Through Family
  • Green Card Through a Job
  • Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status
  • Other Ways to Get a Green Card

Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility

A finding or likelihood of being found inadmissible to the U.S. may not be the end of your hopes for a U.S. visa or green card. Many grounds of inadmissibility allow applicants to apply for a waiver; in other words, "forgiveness" of the ground by the U.S. government. Different grounds of inadmissibility have different waiver requirements, however, so make sure you meet the basic criteria to submit an application. The application itself will need to be carefully prepared and documented.

Adjustment Status

Adjustment of Status (AOS) refers to the procedure that allows foreign nationals already in the U.S., who are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and for whom immigrant visa number is immediately available, to apply for immigrant status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Deferred Action

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.


The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. America values the contributions of immigrants who continue to enrich this country and preserve its legacy as a land of freedom and opportunity.

Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in an individual’s life. If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship.

Freedom of Information Act

One of the most perplexing aspects of the U.S. immigration system is the murky nature of what information the government has (or does not have) about an applicant or petitioner. In some cases, a foreign national looking to apply for a work visa, green card, or other immigration benefit can run into problems and even have the application denied because the government relies on background information that the foreign national didn’t know existed.

Fortunately, thanks to a law called the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, for short), persons wishing to see what information and documents U.S. immigration officials have collected on them—or on another person, with that person's consent—can request a copy of the relevant immigration file, also known as an “A file.” These FOIA requests can be critical in cases where an applicant’s extended history matters to the success of an application, such as in seeking naturalization, or where a foreign national is in removal proceedings and needs to see what evidence the government holds.