green card is a commonly used term for a permanent resident card. A green card allows the holder to work and live in the United States without restrictions. On this page, you will learn how to check your green card status, your NVC case status, and delayed green card applications.

VisaNation Law Group Software for Visa Approval

Ways to Track the Green Card Process

The government body that issues green cards to immigrants living inside the country is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. When USCIS has received a green card application, they provide several ways for applicants to check their status of immigration. This will be referred to as your I-485 status, your I-140 status, or your I-130 status, depending on the type of form used to start the application.

Once USCIS has produced your green card, they also provide several ways to track it as it is being delivered.

Similar methods are used for people applying within the U.S. or outside the U.S. However, the processes differ slightly between these two groups, and different agencies will handle the last stages of the application. Make sure you speak to an immigration attorney for a full synopsis of what to expect in your case.

How To Track Green Card If You Applied Inside the U.S.

If you are living in the U.S., when applying for a green card, you will have to submit an I-485 Form. This allows you to receive a green card without returning to your home country or completing visa processing. In the official documents of your USCIS account, your green card status will be called your I-485 status.

Check Status Online

The easiest way to track your green card status is online. After receiving a green card application, USCIS will send a Notice of Action or I-797C Form. This form will provide a 13-digit Receipt Number. The number consists of 3 letters and 10 numbers.

To track a green card, visit the USCIS website and find the Case Status Online Page. Enter the Receipt Number into the search bard. Do not enter any dashes (-) but include all other characters (such as*). After submission, the system will allow you to review your I-485 status.

tip notice of action

Check Status by Mail

When applying for a green card, you will have to provide a mailing address on the I-485 Form. USCIS will mail all official notifications to this address during the application process, including updates on your green card status/I-485 status. With mailing times, this is not the best way to track a green card unless you have no internet access.

For applicants who pay the immigrant visa fee after entering the U.S., USCIS has a total of 120 days from the date of payment to mail the green card. In practice, applicants can expect a green card to arrive within 30 to 90 days.

Check Status by Email

For applications coming from inside the U.S., there is no option to track a green card or perform a green card status check (or I-485 status check) by email.

Check Status in Person

Tracking your green card status in person is time-consuming. It should be avoided unless there are specific questions regarding your green card application you need answering. You cannot make an in-person appointment unless you first call the USCIS Contact Center.

A Tier 1 representative will try to answer your query. They will transfer you to a Tier 2 representative if they cannot provide a suitable answer. They may call you back directly if they cannot transfer at the time. If the Tier 2 representative cannot handle your inquiry, they will help you schedule an in-person appointment at the closest USCIS Field Office.

Can I travel while waiting for a green card?

If you want to travel outside while waiting for a green card, you will need to get permission from USCIS. To get this, you will need to submit an I-131 Form. After this, wait to hear back from USCIS confirming whether you are allowed to travel. If you do not wait for confirmation before leaving the U.S., USCIS may take this to mean you have abandoned your green card application. With USCIS approval, you can take a vacation, business trip, or visit family abroad.”

Check Status by Phone

If you do not have access to the internet, you can perform a USCIS status check by calling the USCIS Contact Center. The USCIS status tracking number is 1-800-375-5283. You will need your name, birthdate, USCIS Receipt Number, and A-Number (Alien Registration Number) on hand to ensure USCIS can quickly identify your green card application.

Can you stay in the U.S. while waiting for a green card? 

You are permitted to stay in the U.S. while your green card is being processed. This is true even if you already live in the U.S. as an immigrant. You would not need to leave for the approval process if you presented yourself to a border agent before applying for a green card. If you applied before arriving in the U.S., you must keep USCIS updated with your new address if you move into the U.S. so you can receive your green card in the mail.

Marriage-based green card success story blurb

Track Green Card If Applied From Outside the U.S.

The body responsible for handling the final stages of green card applications coming from outside the U.S. is the National Visa Center, or NVC. USCIS will pass on an application submitted from outside the U.S. to the NVC, which will provide its own tracking information.

You will need to contact NVC at least once per year during your application process. Failing to do so will result in your green card application being terminated. When that happens, you will have to restart the process from the beginning, which includes paying the government filing fees again.

Check Status Online

Applicants living outside the U.S. who have a relative or sponsor in the U.S. will need to file an I-130 Form. People immigrating for work will need to file an I-140 form. Both types of applicants will need to submit a DS-260 Form online, which outlines the application.

Alongside this form is the DS-261 Form, which outlines the contact details to be used during the application process. The person receiving updates throughout the application is called your agent. On the DS-261 Form, you can name yourself as your agent to receive updates directly.

After receiving all relevant forms, the NVC will send an email or notification letter, along with an I-797C Form. This will contain a 13-digit Case Number, consisting of 3 letters and 10 numbers.

With your Case Number, go to the Visa Status Check Page of the Consular Electronic Application Center, or CEAC. Make sure that the Visa Application Type is set to “Immigrant Visa (IV)”. Enter the Case Number into the search box. Lastly, enter the verification code below the search box to check your NVC Case Status (or I-140 status for those using that form).

Check Status By Mail

When applying for a green card, you must provide a mailing address on the I-130 form or the I-140 Form and the DS-261 Form. USCIS will mail all official notifications to this address during the application process to keep you updated on your NVC Case Status or I-140 status.

For applicants who pay the immigrant visa fee before entering the U.S., USCIS has a total of 120 days from the date of entry to mail the green card. In practice, applicants can expect a green card to arrive within 30 to 90 days.

Check Status By Email

You can check your NVC Case Status, or ask questions about your application to the NVC using an online Public Inquiry Form. This form is located on the U.S. Visas page. To submit a Public Inquiry Form, you will need your name, birth date, email, NVC Case Number and the name of your sponsoring relative (I-130 Form) or your employer (I-140 Form). The NVC will respond to a submitted form through the email you enter into the Public Inquiry Form.

Check Status in Person

For applications coming from outside the U.S. there is no option for green card tracking or to check your NVC Case Status or I-140 status in person.

Check Status by Phone

If you do not have access to the internet, you can check your NVC Case Status by calling the NVC directly. The right contact number for this is +1-603-334-0700. Before calling, try to find temporary internet access to check the NVC’s current hours of operation on their website.

The NVC has high call volumes. The average wait time to get through to the NVC is upwards of 30 minutes. For this reason, try alternative means of checking your green card status if you can.

Navigating the U.S. Immigration System

You’re likely to have a swifter and easier application process when you seek the advice of an immigration attorney. A good attorney will always keep you abreast of the latest information so that you don’t feel the need to check your green card status. Start your journey with VisaNation today with a 20-minute comprehensive consultation.

Book a Consultation

VisaNation Immigration Law Client Reviews Graphic 2

How to Set Up Electronic Updates

When you apply for a green card, USCIS will notify you by mail once they have accepted your I-485 form. You also have the option of receiving a text or email alert when they have accepted your form. To receive either alert, you must submit a G-1145 Form to USCIS.

To receive updates during the application process, you must create a USCIS Online Account. Once you accept the Terms and Conditions, you can choose your preferred contact method for regular updates of your green card status. This can be either email, text, or both.

For applicants outside the U.S. your agent can receive regular updates from the NVC. You must complete an online DS-261 Form. Your agent will receive both postal and email updates during the application process and may make inquiries on your behalf. You may name yourself as your agent to receive updates directly.

How to Check on a Delayed Green Card Application

If your green card application is taking longer than usual, there are a few ways to check on the status depending on where you applied.

If You Applied from Inside the U.S.

Your USCIS Field Office will provide a processing time estimate for your application after receiving it. You can proceed once your I-485 Form exceeds the estimate. You can go to the USCIS website and find the Check Case Processing Times page. On this page, find the link for “‘Inquire about a case outside normal processing times.

You will need to complete the Inquiry Form provided. This will require your Receipt Number, your A-number, the date of filing the application (the date it was accepted by USCIS), the type of application you filed, and your email address. You will also need to describe the last update you receive from USCIS.

If You Applied from Outside the U.S.

The NVC provides a Visa Bulletin, which has the most important priority dates that are applicable to you after submitting your application. You can take action if you have not heard from the NVC in more than 2 months since their last update regarding your NVC Case Status. Speak to an immigration attorney if you have been left in the dark by the NVC.

First, make sure you have paid all fees and submitted all relevant financial and civil documents the NVC requested you to submit. If you fail to do both steps, the NVC will stop processing your application. If you have paid all fees and submitted all documents, then you can contact the NVC in two ways. You can either call them or submit an online Public Inquiry Form.

How can I track my green card mailing status?

If you have an account with the US Postal Service, you can track your green card in the mail with the Informed Delivery service. This can also be used for EAD tracking. This allows you to get daily images of your green card (and other packages) as it makes its way to you. Informed Delivery also allows you to set up alerts by text or email for when your green card arrives. You can also enter delivery instructions for the mail carrier if you have any.

How We Can Help

Book Today

With over a decade of experience in immigration law, VisaNation Law Group has been a guiding light for individuals and families navigating the complex green card process. Specializing in providing personalized, expert advice, the team of seasoned attorneys understands the intricacies of the U.S. immigration system inside and out. A 20-minute consultation can jumpstart your journey to permanent residency in America.