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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.

CIIC News Blog

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aileen Leonard Dibra, Executive Director
[email protected] / 914.837.2007

August 20, 2019—The Diversity Visa Lottery is a congressionally mandated program providing 50,000 individuals with immigrant visas to the U.S. Lottery winners may be eligible to obtain a Green Card and become a permanent legal resident of the U.S.

The DV-2020 Diversity Lottery results have been released in the August 2019 Department of State Visa Bulletin. Nearly 84,000 entrants were selected worldwide from over 14 million qualified entries for further processing. Ireland received the lowest number of selected entries ever with a total of 32 selected entries between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Be aware the Department of State DOES NOT notify successful applicants via letter or email. Applicants must check their application status online at: https://www.dvlottery.state.gov by providing:

  • Application confirmation number, received at time of filing
  • Full name
  • Year of birth

Those selected under the DV-2020 program must complete visa processing before September 30, 2020.

Always seek reliable support should you have questions, and be wary of fraudulent companies that may try to take advantage of immigrants for monetary gain. Remember that CIIC regional Irish centers are available to help answer questions that applicants may have and can be found here: ciic-usa.org/find-your-local-irish-center.

It is important to remember that not everyone who is selected in the lottery will receive a green card; third parties cannot increase chances of a positive outcome. For further information see: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/diversity-visa-program-entry.html.

It is expected that the next registration period for DV-2021 will open in October 2019 for a 30 days. CIIC will circulate additional information about the next diversity lottery as it becomes available, and encourages those that are eligible and wish to emigrate to the U.S. to apply.

IMPORTANT: As of June 5, 2019 the Department of State is now requiring registrants for the Diversity Visa Program to provide information from a valid, unexpired passport on the electronic entry form (unique serial number associated with their valid, unexpired passport, country or authority of passport issuance, and passport expiration date).

Anyone interested in entering the DV-2021 program MUST have a current and valid passport in their possession at time of application. This new requirement looks to decrease the number of unauthorized and/or fraudulent DV-2021 entries, while creating more opportunity for qualified applicants with a valid passport.

ABOUT THE COALITION OF IRISH IMMIGRATION CENTERS

The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers (CIIC) was established in 1996 to promote the welfare of Irish immigrants in the US at a national level. CIIC is funded by a generous grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Emigrant Support Programme.

The Coalition serves as a national umbrella organization representing Irish immigration and community centers throughout the United States that are committed to providing support to Irish immigrants. The Coalition strives to be a strong, cohesive and representative voice for the needs of its member centers, and in turn the greater community of Irish immigrants in the US. The Coalition prioritizes the sharing of information and the creation of best practices as a way to support and assist its member centers in their direct service work. CIIC member organizations are located in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

CIIC News Blog FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aileen Leonard Dibra, Executive Director [email protected] / 914.837.2007 August 20, 2019— The Diversity Visa Lottery is a congressionally