Congrats on your approval!
1. Prepare for your trip to the United States: Follow the steps below before traveling to the United States to ensure everything goes smoothly once you arrive.
- Double-check your visa (usually a stamp in your passport) to make sure everything, such as your name and expiration date, looks correct.
- Traditionally a sealed package from your U.S. embassy or consulate will be mailed to you with your passport to present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry (usually an airport) once you arrive in the United States — make sure this remains sealed and unopened. If you do not receive a sealed package look for an email from the consulate, as most are transitioning over to digital packets.
- You’ll also receive a handout from the interviewing officer with instructions on how to pay your USCIS Immigrant Fee online. You may need to wait until your passport is returned to you after the interview, since your passport info is required to pay this fee.
- Once the above are done, book travel to the United States as soon as possible: You must enter the United States before your visa expires, typically about 6 months after it was issued.
- IMPORTANT: If you have X-rays in your medical examination, pack them in your carry-on, not in your checked luggage.
2. Travel to the United States: The following are tips on what to expect once you’re in the United States and how to receive your physical green card.
- Once you arrive in the United States, you’ll present a CBP officer with your visa and the sealed immigration packet you received after your interview.
- The CBP officer may ask you a few simple questions before granting you permission to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident, the official way of saying “green card holder.”
- Once you’ve officially entered the United States, you’ll receive your physical green card at your U.S. mailing address within 3–4 weeks. It will arrive in an envelope from “USCIS Service Center.”
3. Use your new green card: It’s a big deal to have a green card! Below are a few of the benefits of having one, plus tips on how to renew it or become a U.S. citizen.
- You can now live and work permanently in the United States.
- You may eventually qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.
- Check out this guide to being a new green card holder in the United States.
Your green card will eventually expire. Here’s how to renew it or become a U.S. citizen:
- If you’ve been married less than 2 years at the time of green card approval, your green card will be marked “CR1” (for “conditional green card”) and will be valid for 2 years. Our guide to renewing a conditional green card has more details.
- If you’ve been married more than 2 years at the time of green card approval, your green card will be marked “IR1” (for “immediate relative green card”) and will be valid for 10 years. Renewal is typically a simple process.
- If you want to vote in U.S. elections, run for office, or bring your family to the United States, you can become a citizen through a process called “naturalization.” Our guide to naturalization has more details about eligibility, requirements, and steps.