Adjustment of Status
What Is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of Status is the process of applying for lawful permanent residency in the United States. The process is commonly known as applying for a green card. Becoming a lawful permanent resident can happen through a number of ways, including family members, a job or job offer, seeking asylum, or other special provisions. Obtaining Permanent Residency Status through Adjustment of Status is for those who are already in the United States legally with a visa.
You must obtain your visa through consular processing if you are outside of the United States.
Who is Eligible for Adjustment of Status?
Immediate relatives, asylees, and refugees can generally change their status to obtain a green card. If you match the following criteria, you are eligible to file an adjustment of status application:
You're qualified for the type of green card you're applying for.
You have a valid visa and are physically present in the United States.
You have legal status.
If you're not filing a concurrent application, you already have an authorized I-130 or I-140 petition.
If you're in a "preferred category," your priority date is current (meaning, you have to wait for a visa number for your green card application type).
You've married your U.S.-based spouse while your K-1 fiance visa is still active.
You've been waiting for at least a year since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued your green card.
You were awarded asylum or refugee status by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the heart of U.S. immigration law, you are eligible for adjustment of status.
Who is not Eligible for Adjustment of Status?
Not all foreign nationals are eligible for adjustment of status. If any of the following apply to you, you cannot file an adjustment of status application to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
You don't have a physical presence in the United States.
You don't have a valid immigration status right now.
You entered the United States without a valid visa and without being inspected by a US immigration officer.
You came to the US on a K-1 fiancé visa but didn't marry before it expired, or you're a dependent of a K-1 visa holder who didn't marry before their visa expired.
You're on the verge of being deported.
You've been designated as a conditional permanent resident.
The Visa Waiver Program allowed you to enter the United States (VWP).
You came to the US in transit and didn't have a visa.
What is the 90-day rule?
Even if you determine that you are eligible for adjustment of status, there are some more factors to consider. The "90-day rule" is an important aspect. When you visit the United States on a non-immigrant visa, the US government expects you to stay in the country for the purposes for which you were granted the visa. If you come to the United States on a student visa, for example, USCIS expects you to stay in school. USCIS expects you to be a tourist if you enter on a tourist visa.
While you must have a valid visa to alter your status, entering the United States only for the goal of obtaining a green card will have a negative impact on your application. Let's say you apply for adjustment of status less than 90 days after arriving in the country. In that situation, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may have reason to doubt your actual intentions for visiting the US.
What is the Adjustment of Status Application Process?
After you've determined that you're eligible for an adjustment of status, you'll need to complete five basic stages to submit your application.
Step 1 - Green Card Sponsor Files I-130 Visa Petition
First, your green card sponsor will file a Form I-130 petition on your behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You'll utilize Form I-130 to show that you and your U.S. citizen or green card holder sponsor are related and that your application can be based on that relationship.
Your U.S. employer will file a Form I-140 petition on your behalf for employment-based immigrant petitions. Your sponsor will file a Form I-730 petition on your behalf for humanitarian green cards.
Note: You can file a "concurrent application" if the US government does not have quotas for the type of green card you want. This means you'll submit both Forms I-130 and I-485, along with all required supporting documentation, at the same time.
Step 2 - File Form I-485 Once USCIS Approves I-130 Petition
If you're filing a "nonconcurrent application," which means you're not submitting Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time, the next step is to file Form I-485 once your I-130 petition is approved by USCIS. The official application for a change of status is Form I-485. You can only file it if you already have a visa number. For further information on visa availability, consult the US Department of State's visa bulletin.
In addition, if you want to work in the United States while you wait for your green card, you must submit Form I-765 together with Form I-485 to obtain work authorization. Similarly, if you want to go overseas while waiting for your green card, you'll need to file Form I-131 together with your Form I-485 in order to obtain an Advance Parole travel document. There are required supporting documentation for each of these forms that you must submit with your application.
Step 3 - Attend Biometrics Appointment
USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for you shortly after you submit your application forms. Your biometric information, such as your photo, fingerprints, and signature, will be captured in order for USCIS to run a criminal background check in the FBI's database.
Step 4 - Attend Green Card Interview
Following that, USCIS may or may not invite you to a green card interview at a USCIS location near you. USCIS will make their decision based on the information in your application as well as the results of their criminal background investigation. The USCIS officer will ask questions about your application, as well as the responses and supporting documents you supplied, during the green card interview.
Step 5 - USCIS Approves or Denies Green Card Application
Following your green card interview, USCIS will send you a decision on your application. They may accept or reject your application. If your application is approved, you will receive your physical green card paperwork in the mail within a few weeks. If you changed your status from a fiancé visa to a marriage green card, you may be issued a conditional green card, which you must renew when it expires in two years.
Note: By entering your receipt number into the USCIS online case tracker, you can check the status of your green card application.
What Happens if USCIS Denies my Adjustment of Status Application?
You will lose your legal immigration status if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) rejects your application. If you had a work permit as a result of filing Form I-765 with your green card application, it will expire and you will have to stop working. You should make plans to leave the United States as soon as feasible to avoid accruing unlawful presence.
For a variety of reasons, USCIS may reject your adjustment of status application. It's possible that you filled out a form erroneously or incompletely. It's possible that you included the incorrect filing fees on your application forms. They may have discovered during your green card interview that you are ineligible for the green card application type you submitted for. USCIS may deny your green card for any of these reasons.
If you don't have a valid visa, you may be able to apply for a new green card in specific circumstances, but not as an adjustment of status. You can send a fresh application with the corrections if, for example, you didn't include critical evidence that USCIS requested the first time or didn't sign your paperwork. You might not be able to apply for a green card again in other circumstances. If USCIS declined your application because you are ineligible for a green card, for example. If USCIS rejects your application, you should consult with an immigration attorney.
How Much Does it Cost to Apply for Form I-485?
If you're between the ages of 14 and 78, filing Form I-485 will set you back $1,225, which includes a $85 biometric charge and $1140 for processing. Any applicant under the age of 14 who files Form I-485 with at least one parent pays the US government only $750 for their application. To change their status to permanent residence, refugees and asylees will not have to pay any filing fees. If you can't afford the filing fees, you can apply for a fee waiver for Form I-485.
Can I Travel While Form I-485 is Pending?
If USCIS has granted you Advance Parole, you can travel while your Form I-485 is pending. Advance Parole is a permit that allows you to travel overseas while your green card application is being processed by USCIS and then return to the US without abandoning your application. If you leave the country without Advance Parole, USCIS will put your green card application on hold, and you'll have to start over. By submitting Form I-131 along with Form I-485, you can apply for Advance Parole.
Can I Work During the Adjustment of Status Process?
If you have a valid Employment Authorization Document, you can work in the United States while your adjustment of status application is pending (EAD). Without an EAD, you are unable to work in the United States. Applicants for adjustment of status are also eligible to apply for work authorization. You'll need to file Form I-765 together with Form I-485 to accomplish this.
How do I Track the Status of my Adjustment of Status case?
On the USCIS website, you can check the status of your adjustment application. You'll need the receipt number from the reception notice USCIS issued you when your application was received. You'll be able to get the most recent progress update on your application if you enter your receipt number into the USCIS case tracker.