Certain American Indians born in Canada cannot be denied admission to the United States and can qualify for US Permanent Residence (Green Card). Here’s how to find out if you are eligible—and how to obtain your green card.
Do I qualify for a Green Card as an American Indian born in Canada?
You may be eligible to receive a Green Card (permanent residence) as an American Indian born in Canada if:
- You have 50% or more of the blood of the American Indian race
- You were born in Canada
What if my tribal membership is through marriage or adoption?
You must have proof of this ancestry based on your familial blood relationship to parents, grandparents, and/or great-grandparents who are or were registered members of a recognized Canadian Indian band or US Indian tribe. You cannot apply for permanent residence if your tribal membership is derived through marriage or adoption.
How do I enter the US to obtain a green card?
If you live outside the United States and are seeking to enter the United States, you must tell the US Customs and Border Protection officer that you are an American Indian born in Canada, and provide documentation to support your claim. You must also state that you are seeking to enter to reside permanently in the United States.
How do I request a Record of Admission for Permanent Residence?
You must schedule an InfoPass appointment and appear in person at your local USCIS office. You do not have to complete an application or pay a fee to request the creation of the record. Bring ALL of the following to your appointment:
- Two passport-style photos
- A copy of your government-issued identity document with a photograph
- A copy of your long-form Canadian birth certificate (to establish lineage to claimed tribal ancestors, as well as birth in Canada)
- Documentation to establish membership, past or present, in each band or tribe for yourself and every lineal ancestor (parents and grandparents) through whom you have derived the required percentage of American Indian blood (this documentation must come from the official tribal government or from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada)
What if I don’t have proof of membership in a band or tribe?
If you do not have documentation establishing your past or present membership in each band or tribe for yourself and every lineal ancestor from the official tribal government, you may bring one or both of the following:
- Documentation from the Canadian or United States Government
- An original Letter of Ancestry issued by INAC
What are the documentation requirements?
The requirements for submitted documentation are as follows:
- All documentation must be in the form of clear legible photocopies of the originals
- Documentation or information in any language other than English must be accompanied by a full English translation
- Letters or identification cards issued by Metis associations or other third parties, by themselves, CAN NOT definitively establish your American Indian blood percentage in reference to a specific Canadian Indian band or US Indian tribe
What about my family members?
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are NOT eligible to receive permanent residence based on your status. If they are American Indians born in Canada, with 50% Indian blood, they may become permanent residents on their own. If they are not American Indians born in Canada, you may file USCIS Form I-130 Petition for them after you obtain proof that you are a permanent resident of the United States.
Green Cards for Family Members
Additional Outside Resources
- USCIS: Green Card for an American Born Indian in Canada
- CANADA.CA: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
- USCIS Form I-130 Petition for Foreign Relative
We Can Help!
The immigration lawyers at Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law have more than 20 years of experience helping foreign nationals (especially Canadians) to live and work in the United States. Contact us today for an assessment of your legal situation.