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Application Procedures

Becoming a Permanent Resident While in the United States

If you would like to become a lawful permanent resident in the United States, you must file the following items with the Immigration and Naturalization Service:

In addition:

  • If you have already been approved for an immigrant petition , you must submit a copy of the approval notice sent to you by INS.
  • If someone else is or has filed a petition for you that, if approved, will make an immigrant number immediately available to you, you must submit a copy of the completed petition that is being filed for you. Such applications include only immediate relative, special immigrant juvenile or special immigrant military petitions. For more information, please see How Do I Get an Immigrant Visa Number?.
  • If you were admitted into the United States as a fiancé of a U.S. citizen and married that citizen within the required 90 days, you must submit a copy of the fiancé petition approval notice and a copy of your marriage certificate.
  • If you are an asylee or refugee, you must submit a copy of the letter or INS Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) that shows the date you were granted asylum or refuge in the United States. You also must submit INS Form I-643 (Health and Human Services Statistical Data).
  • If you are a Cuban citizen or native, you must use INS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and submit evidence of your citizenship or nationality.
  • If you have been a continuous resident of the United States since before January 1, 1972, you must submit evidence showing that you entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972 and that you have lived in the United States continuously since your entry into the country.
  • If your parent became a lawful permanent resident after you were born, you must submit evidence that your parent has been or will be granted permanent residence. You must also submit a copy of your birth certificate, and proof of your relationship with your parent.
  • If your spouse became a lawful permanent resident after you were married, you must submit evidence that your spouse has been granted permanent residence. You must also submit a copy of your marriage certificate and proof that any previous marriages entered into by you or your spouse were legally terminated.

Please note that there are certain eligibility requirements for using Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). Forms are available by calling , or by submitting a request through our forms by mail system. For further information on filing fees, please see INS filing fees, fee waiver request procedures, and the INS fee waiver policy memo.

Becoming a Permanent Resident While outside the United States

The following is the text of an April 3, 1993 State Department cable (no. 93-State-100650) sent to all diplomatic and consular posts:
Subject: Processing Immigrant Visas by Telegraphic Notification from INS Ref: 91 State 315950 (ALDAC 44)

  1. Cabled notification from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) can and in most cases should be used as the basis fot the issuance of an immigrant visa. Upon receipt of cabled approval from INS, consular officers should begin to process the immigrant visa rather than wait to receive the original petition. Provided that all the essential information necessary in the cable is complete, there are no specific indications of fraud. And there is no reason to question the validity of the approval.
  2. All petitions will contain the petition number and the INS approving office. The following are the acronyms for the four INS adjudication centers: EAC (Eastern Adjudications Center, St. Albas, Vermont) ; WAC (Western Adjudications Center, Laguna Niguel, CA) ; SRC (Southers Regional Center, Irving TX) ; LIN (Northern Adjudications Center, Lincoln, Nebraska).
  3. In addition to the cable from INS, posts may also issue immigrant visas on the basis of an original approved Form I-797, Notice of Action. In the case of family-based petitions, all original documentation establishing the claimed relationship should be presented. In the case of employment-based petitions, where documentation is necessary in order to determine job requirements and qualifications of the alien, posts may issue an immigrant visa on the basis of the I-797, if accompanied by a certified copy of the original I-140 petition and supporting documentation which were originally submitted to the Service.
  4. If the post had been notified telegraphically of the approval of a petition, or the visa is processed on the basis of the I-797, posts shall attach a copy of the telegram or I-797 to the visa of the beneficiary (if) the visa is issued before the petition is received. In such case, when the petition is received posts shall return it to the INS office having jurisdiction over the alien's place of intended residence in the U.S. This supersedes the procedures outlined in 9 FAM 42.73 PN2.1 (C).
  5. Consular officers should begin immediately to process adoption cases upon receipt of visas 37, 38, or visas 39 cables. A recent GAO study on intercountry adoptions recommended that quote the Secretary of State direct the Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs to instruct consular officers to rely on information in approval notification cables from INS to begin processing visa applications and scheduling parent interviews, rather than require the original petition and supporting documents be produced for visual inspection, unless the cable presents information that on its face would call into question the validity of the approval. Unquote. The Department endorses the GAO's recommendation.