A green card, also known as a permanent visa, is a type of immigration document issued to persons who have been granted Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. A lawful permanent resident is not a full U.S. citizen. However, green card holders have many rights, such as:

  • The right to work in the U.S.
  • The right to live permanently in the U.S.
  • The right to apply for educational financial aid
  • The right to start a business

There are three basic avenues that an immigrant can obtain a green card:

  • Employment
  • Marriage
  • Through a relative

1. Where Can I Get a Green Card Application?

Green card applications are available for free online. They may be downloaded through the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

2. How Much Does It Cost?

Getting the green card application should not cost anything. However, there are filing fees associated with each type of green card form. It is important to remember that an application will not be considered unless the filing fee is paid.

The main green card application document is Form I-485. This form is called the "Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status," and the filing fee is $985. If biometric data is required, there is an $85 fee, bringing the total filing fees to $1,070.

There are also filing fees associated with every green card-related form that needs to be submitted, and may vary by green card category.

Some other green-card based filing fees include:

  • Form I-698, "Petition to Change Status from Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident" : $1,020
  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: $420
  • Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé: $340
  • Form I-90, Petition to Replace Green Card: $365

Finances can be a big factor in immigration matters, making it very important to be prepared for the basic fees as well as any extra additional costs.

3. Are There Fee Waivers Available?

Yes. Form I-912 "Request for Fee Waiver" is available for certain people’s green card applications.

However, not all applicants will qualify for a fee waiver. To be eligible for a fee waiver, several requirements must be met, including having a household income below the poverty level or other types of extreme financial hardship.

4. What Else Is Involved?

  • A person filling out a green card application needs to fulfill three basic requirements:
  • They must have a U.S. citizen petition them, such as an employer or relative
  • They must file their green card application at a U.S. consular office or embassy
  • They must meet all the requirements for admissibility.

After meeting these basic requirements, the applicant may then likely have several follow-up steps, such as interviews and submitting additional information. For example, most green card applicants will be asked to provide supplemental documentation, such as a valid passport, photographs, birth certificates, marriage or divorce documents, proof of financial income, and medical exam reports.

5. Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

Even though there are forms and guides available online, applying for a green card can still be incredibly confusing. A lawyer can help guide you through the process, making it much easier and clearer. By hiring an immigration lawyer, you can avoid costly errors and ensure you do not miss any deadlines or any requirements.