It can take several months to get a decision on your green card application, and your immigration status hangs in the balance. Fortunately, you can check on the status of your application through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Before you can do this, you will need a copy of your Form I-797C. You should have received a copy in the mail after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received your application. There is information in this form you need to check the status of your green card application.
What Is a Form I-797C?
Form I-797C is a notice from the USCIS that they’ve received your application. On this form will be a 13-character number you’ll need to check the status of your Green Card. The I-797C form looks like this:
What Is a Receipt Number?
The 13-character number also called a receipt number, is a tracking number for your application in the USCIS system. Whenever you enter your receipt number on the USCIS website, do not write any dashes (“-”). Include all other characters, including asterisks (“*”).
How Do I Check My Green Card Status on the Web?
To use your receipt number to check your green card status, go to the Case Status Online page. Enter the number into the box and click the Check Status button. Unfortunately, there is no way to check your status via email!
Can I Check My Case Status by Phone?
Yes. You can check your case status by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. You will need your receipt number when you call in. This is useful if you do not have access to a computer to check your green card status.
Can I Check My Case Status in Person?
Yes. But first, you must call the USCIS Contact Center. If a Tier 1 representative cannot solve your problem, then they will transfer you to a Tier 2 representative. They may call you directly.
If the Tier 2 representative cannot solve your problem either, they will help you schedule an in-person appointment at your closest USCIS field office.
How Long Will It Take to Get My Green Card?
The processing time for a green card application varies depending on the category under which you
filed for your green card and the USCIS office with jurisdiction over your location. Some offices are busier than others. You can check the average processing time it takes for a particular USCIS office to process a Form I-485 online.
You will need to know which office is handling your case and the date the USCIS received your case from your Form I-797C. If your case has been delayed beyond the estimate, go to this USCIS page and select “Case outside normal processing time.”
How Do I Update My Address with the USCIS?
If you move, you’ll need to update your address with the USCIS so that you don’t miss any important updates regarding your green card status. The USCIS recommends you update your address within ten days of moving.
This is crucial because if you get approved, the USCIS will mail your green card to the address they have on file for you! If you haven’t updated it since you first talked with immigration officials, you could lose your card in the mail!
There are three ways to update your address with the USCIS:
USCIS Online Account
If you filed I-485 online, you should have a username and password for a USCIS online account. Simply log in and change your address.
USCIS Online Change of Address Form
If you don’t have a USCIS account, you can still file Form AR-11 online for an Alien’s Change of Address Card. It’s a simple process that takes about five minutes. Be sure to have your green card receipt number handy!
Mailing Form AR-11
Finally, you can fill out Form AR-11 and mail it to the USCIS. In certain cases, such as crime victims, you may be required to mail in a physical copy instead of using the online options.
What If I Applied Outside the United States?
If you’ve applied for a green card outside of the U.S. and you’ve already had an approved Form I-130 (for alien relatives) or Form I-140 (for alien workers), then you will need to contact the National Visa Center (NVC) to find out your green card status.
However, most green card applications start with the USCIS, so if you’re just starting the process you can use the instructions here to track your application until they turn it over to the NVC. At that time, you’ll receive a case number from the NVC you’ll use to track your status.
If you have been waiting for a response, be sure to contact the NVC at least once a year so your application isn’t terminated! If that happens, you’ll need to start all over again and pay the fees.
Can I Travel While Waiting for a Green Card?
If you want to travel while you wait, simply complete the Application for Travel Document Form I-131. After mailing it in, wait for confirmation from USCIS that you’re allowed to travel. Leaving the United States without approval may be considered as abandoning your Green Card application.
You can still take a business trip, dream vacation, or visit family back home, even if you’re waiting for a green card. USCIS permits green card applicants to travel abroad while you wait for your green card to arrive provided you have received approval for your I-131.
Can You Stay in the U.S. While Waiting for a Green Card?
Even if you were already in the United States when you applied for your Green Card, you are permitted to stay in the U.S. while you wait for your Green Card application to be processed.
You will not have to leave during the approval process if you presented yourself to an agent at the border rather than applying before your arrival. Be sure to keep your address updated with USCIS so you can receive all notices and, hopefully, your green card.
Immigration Paperwork Made Easier Using FileRight
FileRight’s online immigration applications provide documents with clarity and less complexity than the government offers. We provide lawyer review services and DIY software to enable you to complete your immigration application thoroughly and completely the first time.
After you file your green card application with FileRight, contact our friendly customer support team, who will be available to answer questions you may have. We can help direct you on how to best follow up on your application and check the status of your green card.