Congratulations on getting your immigrant visa and arriving in the United States! The hardest part of your immigration process is over, however, after you arrive in the U.S. with your immigrant visa, it may take a while still to actually receive your green card in the mail. This will get produced and delivered to the address you indicated on the DS-260, which might be the address of the Petitioner or your attorney.

While you wait, you might be wondering, do I have to wait for my green card to arrive before I can get a job in the U.S., or travel internationally? Thankfully, the answer is no. You can do everything that a green-card holder can, even while you are waiting for the actual card, because your immigrant visa alone serves as temporary proof that you are a Lawful Permanent Resident. If you look closely at the immigrant visa in your passport, you’ll notice that it contains the following important statement:

“Upon endorsement serves as temporary I-551 evidencing permanent residence for 1 year.” An “I-551” is the official code for a Permanent Resident Card, or “green card.” This means that once your passport has been stamped showing that you entered the U.S. using the immigrant visa, this immigrant visa serves as your temporary green card for up to 1 year, or until your green card does arrive. You can use it to work, travel internationally, or otherwise prove your Lawful Permanent Resident status when needed. You can also obtain your Social Security number directly from the Social Security Administration.

When you pay your USCIS Immigrant Fee (which you should do before or immediately upon arriving to the U.S. to speed up your green card production), you should receive an email containing a “case number” along with your payment receipt. This is the number that you can use to check the status of your green card production at This will allow you to track the status of your green card production. It is normal for your green card to take several months to arrive, but even though green card issuing has been significantly delayed you should still receive your card well within a year of arriving in the U.S. Make sure to follow up with USCIS if you haven’t received any updates on your green card production within 3-6 months of your arrival.

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Lal Legal is a leading law-firm specializing in immigration issues.
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