How to get a green card or permanent residency

how to get a green card
If you were admitted as a refugee, you are required by law to apply for lawful permanent residence status (a “green card”) after you have been in the United States for at least one year.

Am I eligible to apply for a green card?

You must apply for a green card at least one year from the date you are given a refugee status. To be eligible, you must have:

  • been physically present in the United States for at least one year after being admitted as a refugee
  • not had your refugee admission terminated (or, have maintained your refugee status in the US)
  • not already acquired permanent resident (green card) status

If you are an asylee, you may be able to apply for and obtain permanent resident status one year after you are granted asylum and you:

  • have been physically present in the United States for at least one year after being granted asylum
  • continue to be a refugee (as defined in immigration law) or the spouse or child of a refugee
  • are not firmly resettled in any foreign country; and
  • are admissible to the United States as an immigrant

How do I apply?

To apply for permanent resident status, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. You must also have a USCIS doctor complete Form I-693 showing proof of your medical examination. As a refugee, there is currently no fee to file this form.

If possible, please have your resettlement agency help you apply for your adjustment of status. Please read the instructions on the form and follow them carefully. Legal paperwork can be very difficult to complete without the help of a lawyer. There are lawyers and organizations around the country that will help you complete your application. The Refugee Center Online provides basic background information to help you understand the process of applying for permanent residence but cannot actually help you complete your application.

For more information on Refugee Adjustment of Status, please visit the USCIS page on green cards or call the USCIS customer service phone number: 1-800-375-5283. If you call this number, you may have to wait on hold before getting help.


The RCO does not provide legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice.

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