Where to Send Your Green Card Application? Step By Step Guide

The green card application process can be confusing and complicated. For instance, you may need to file several forms besides the usual Form I-485. You must provide all supporting documents and pay the filing fees through money order, cashier’s check, or personal check. Once done, you need to mail your application to the USCIS and await their response.

But before mailing your application to USCIS, you must ensure that you have the correct mailing address. This is because it’s easy to confuse one mailing address with another, given that the USCIS has varying mailing addresses for different forms and green card eligibility categories. Mailing your application to the wrong address results in processing delays. 

This article explains where to mail your green card application, depending on the application process and green card category.

Where to File Family-Based Green Card Application Forms?

Family-based green card application forms include Form I-130, I-131, I-360, I-485, I-765, I-824, and I-864. Here are the direct filing addresses for these forms, depending on location in the U.S.

If you live in Texas, you should mail your application to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox at the following addresses:

When using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), address your mail to:

  • USCIS
  • Attn: AOS
  • P.O. Box 650288
  • Dallas, TX 75265-0288

When using FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries, address your mail to:

  • USCIS
  • Attn: AOS (Box 650288)
  • 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business 
  • Suite 400
  • Lewisville, TX 75067-8003

Suppose you live in Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin. In that case, you should send your application to the USCIS Elgin Lockbox using the following addresses:

When using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), address your mail to:

  • USCIS
  • Attn: AOS 
  • P.O. Box 4109
  • Carol Stream, IL 60197-4109

When using FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries, address your mail to:

  • USCIS 
  • Attn: AOS (Box 4109)
  • 2500 Westfield Drive 
  • Elgin, IL 60124-7836

If you live in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, or Wyoming, you should mail your application to USCIS Phoenix Lockbox using the following addresses:

When using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), address your application to:

  • USCIS
  • Attn: AOS
  • P.O. Box 20500
  • Phoenix, AZ 85036-0500

When using FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

  • USCIS
  • Attn: AOS (Box 20500)
  • 1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
  • Suite 100
  • Phoenix, AZ 85034-4850

If you live in Alaska, California, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, or Washington, you should mail your application to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox using the following addresses.

When using U.S. Postal Service (USPS), address your application to:

  • USCIS
  • Attn: AOS
  • P.O. Box 805887
  • Chicago, IL 60680

When using FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries, address your application to:

  • USCIS
  • Attn: AOS (Box 805887)
  • 131 S. Dearborn St., 3rd Floor
  • Chicago, IL 60603-5517

How to Apply For A Green Card and Get Lawful Permanent Resident Status?

Some foreign nationals living in the U.S. may be eligible for a green card through the Adjustment of Status process. However, most applicants apply for green cards outside the United States through Consular Processing.

Here is how these processes differ.

Application to Register Lawful Permanent Residence or Adjust Status in the United States 

There are several green card eligibility categories that foreign nationals living in the U.S. can use to become permanent residents.

This process includes filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, commonly known as the green card application form. 

Some of these categories include:

If you’re eligible to adjust your nonimmigrant status and legally live in the U.S., your sponsor must file an immigrant petition on your behalf to start the green card process.

For example, if you’re filing for a marriage-based green card, your U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, petitioning the U.S. government to grant you a green card.

Under this category, you and your spouse can file the immigration petition and the adjustment of status at the same time (often called concurrent filing). But in some categories, you must have an immigration petition approved by USCIS before filing Form I-485.

Other examples of immigration petition forms include:

  • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
  • Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
  • Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal

Keep in mind that there are a few cases where you don’t necessarily require an immigration petition to apply for a green card. This means that you won’t need a sponsor to initiate the green card application process.

Instead, you can file the green card petition for yourself.

Filing Instructions And Addresses for An Adjustment of Status Applications

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is usually in charge of the Adjustment of Status applications. However, the direct filing addresses for these applications vary depending on your green card eligibility category, the reason for filing, and your location in the U.S. 

Filing the Immigrant Petition to Become a Lawful Permanent Resident and Initiate Change of Status

After determining your eligibility, the next step is filing an immigrant petition. Usually, you’ll need a sponsor to complete this step. The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident immediate relative, or a U.S.-based employer.

A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative can petition for you if you’re applying for a family-based green card. This process includes filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

On the other hand, the U.S. employer petitions for you if you’re applying for an employment-based green card by filing Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker

You may also be eligible for self-petitioning under some circumstances. For instance:

Green Card Application Through Consular Processing

Consular processing allows foreign nationals living abroad to seek permanent residency in the U.S. by following these steps:

Determining Eligibility

Most foreign nationals apply for green cards through family and employment. However, there are several other eligibility categories, including:

  • Green cards for victims of abuse
  • Green cards for victims of crime and human trafficking
  • Green cards through registry 
  • Green card through the Cuban Adjustment Act

And so on.

Where to File An Immigrant Petition During Consular Processing

Usually, sponsors file immigrant petitions with the local USCIS offices. However, there are a few circumstances where the sponsors can file these petitions with the USCIS field offices, the U.S. embassy, or the consulate abroad.

But before filing, it’s best to check with the U.S. Department of State or Department of Homeland Security for the correct filing addresses. 

Waiting for the USCIS Decision After You Submit Form I-485

The USCIS will notify your sponsor of their decision after evaluating their application. If they deny the application, they’ll provide reasons and let the sponsor know whether or not they can appeal this decision. However, if the application is successful, the USCIS will notify the National Visa Center (NVC) in your country.

You don’t need to contact the National Visa Center to check your case status. Instead, they’ll contact you to inform you about an available immigrant visa number so you can pay the immigrant visa processing fees and provide supporting documents.

Next, the consular office will adjudicate the form and invite you for an interview at a local USCIS office and decide whether you’re eligible for an immigrant visa.

Receiving your Visa

The NVC will grant you an immigrant visa to travel to the U.S. On arrival, a Customs and Border Protection officer will inspect your documents to determine whether to admit you as a permanent resident.

Receiving Your Green Card

You’ll receive your green card, also called the permanent resident card, through mail once you arrive in the U.S. and after paying the USCIS immigration fee.

This should happen within 45 days after your arrival. If you fail to receive your green card, you must call the USCIS contact center as soon as possible. 

How to Notify the USCIS of a Change of Address When You File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence

You must promptly notify the USCIS of an address change even if you have already received your green card. Failing to do so may result in fines, pending applications, jail terms, or even deportation.

If you already have a green card, you must inform the USCIS of a change of address within ten days. Similarly, you must notify the USCIS within the same period if you have a temporary visa. You’re exempted from this requirement if:

  • You’re a government official or foreign diplomat with an A visa
  • You’re a government representative to an international organization with a G visa
  • You’re a tourist or visitor on a visa waiver program lasting less than 30 days

Your U.S. citizen sponsor should also notify the USCIS of an address change. Although this isn’t a legal requirement, it ensures you’re still able to receive important communication from the immigration office and delays in your green card processes.

There are three ways to notify the USCIS of an address change. 

1. Online Notification

The first option is to fill out the online Change of Address Form or access your USCIS online account to change your address.

This option is limited to some immigrants. For example, if you’re a victim of human trafficking or domestic abuse, you must use the mail option to inform the USCIS’s Humanitarian Division about these changes. 

2. Notification By Mail

If you’re a non-citizen, you can complete Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, and mail it to the address provided on the form. On the other hand, a U.S. citizen can submit Form I-865, Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address, to the provided address.

3. Notification By Phone

U.S. citizens and non-citizens can call the USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 to notify them of a change of address. However, non-citizens must also file Form AR-11, or complete an online change of address form, in addition to the phone call.

FAQs About Applying For a Permanent Resident Card

What Supporting Forms and Documents Do I Need to File with Form I-485?

The supporting documents accompanying your application for adjustment of status vary depending on your responses to the application. Some examples of forms and documents required while filing Form I-485 include the following:

  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of your passport
  • Passport photos
  • A copy of a government-issued identity card
  • Certified police and court records of criminal charges
  • A copy of Form I-797, Approval or Receipt Notice

How Long Does it Take for Form I-485 to Be USCIS Approved?

It takes about 8 to 14 months to process the adjustment of status application. The processing times for Form I-485 vary depending on your application category.

To What Agency Do You Apply for Adjustment of Status?

You’ll file your Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, with the USCIS.

Can I Submit I-130 and I-485 Together?

Yes, you can. Filing Form I-485 together with Form I-130 is called concurrent filing. This allows you to submit your application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by filing Form I-765, allowing you to work while waiting for your green card.

You can also apply for an Advance Parole, allowing you to travel abroad without abandoning your green card application.

Who Cannot File Form I-485?

You can’t file Form I-485 if:

  • You’re a family member of a U.S. citizen, but you’re not present in the country
  • You entered the U.S. as a crewman
  • You’re in transit to another country through the U.S.
  • You came to the U.S. as an informant or witness
  • You’re under removal proceedings due to your participation in terrorism