Adjustment of Status – Getting a U.S. Green Card
More commonly known as applying for a Green Card, the process known as Adjustment of Status is when you apply for a lawful permanent resident status when you are present in the United States. After receiving a Green Card, this means you can stay in the country without having to return to your home country to complete the processing of your visa.
If you entered the Unites States with a valid visa and are married to a U.S. citizen or have a U.S. citizen parent or child, you may be able to obtain your green card without leaving the U.S. To apply for an Adjustment of Status, or Green Card, takes a series of steps. Please see below to see what steps you can take.
1. How do you determine if you are eligible to apply for a Green Card or not?
Before applying for a Green Card, it’s important that you review the requirements for eligibility. Thankfully, the United States provides a number of ways for people to apply for a Green Card. Your eligibility requirements for an Adjustment of Status will vary. It depends on what category of immigration you are applying under.
Green Card Eligibility is determined based on a number of categories:
Once you determine what immigrant category you fall under, you can see what specific elements you have to fulfill within your category.
2. How do you determine if you are eligible to apply for a Green Card or not?
When you apply for a Green Card, you most often have to complete at least two forms. The first is a Green Card application. The second is an immigrant petition. Often someone who is sponsoring or petitioning for you will have to file the petition for you. There are some instances where you may be eligible to file for yourself.
The most common forms completed are these:
Additional forms that provide an alternate form of petition include:
Most categories of immigration petitions have to be approved before you can file the Green Card application. This form is known as Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
There are some categories that allow you to fill out Form I-485 at the same time as the immigrant petition, or while the petition is pending, through a process known as “concurrent filing.”
Only a few categories do not require an underlying immigrant petition. Those are all determined based upon which category you’re filing for your Green Card under.
3. When is a visa made available? (if applicable)
Generally speaking, you aren’t able to file your Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category.
There are occasional exceptions to the visa availability requirement. If you want to see, please check your specific immigrant category for more information.
4. File Form I-485
If you are in the United States and are eligible for an Adjustment of Status, it’s time to file your Form I-485. The form has to be filed properly with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There is a page for Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-485, letting you see where you should file your application.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), applying to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident under section 245(i) means you’ll have to complete the form I-485 and the Supplement A form, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i).
5. Go to your Application Support Center appointment
You will receive mail including a notice for a biometrics services at a local Application Support Center (ASC). This will happen after you file your Form I-485. The appointment will be to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature.
When you receive your notice, it will include the date, time, and location of the appointment. The ASC biometrics will verify your identity and be used to conduct background and security checks, areas required as a part of the process.
At your ASC appointment, you will need to review all the provided information in your application and that the information you provided was completed and correct at the time you entered the forms. You need to make sure the acknowledgment is signed. If you don’t notify the ASC if you can’t make your appointment to reschedule, or fill the information out incorrectly, you may see your I-485 form denied.
6. Go to your interview (if required)
This isn’t always applicable, but USCIS officials will review your application. During that review, it may be determined whether an interview is necessary. When this occurs, the USCIS office will schedule you for an interview. That interview will be a required appearance at a USCIS office to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your Form I-485.
When the interview occurs, you’ll have to come along with the family member who filed the immigrant petition for you.
As you attend, you’ll need to bring passports, official travel documents, and Form I-94. If these have expired, you still need to bring them to the interview.
7. Respond to a request for additional evidence (if applicable)
Much like the interview, it may be determined by the USCIS offices that they require additional evidence. This isn’t guaranteed to occur, but it may be asked of you. The USCIS offices will requestion additional evidence in the event that:
The request that comes in from the USCIS offices will indicate what evidence is needed. The request for evidence will tell you where to send the information they’re requesting, and the date you need to provide a response to their request by to make sure things move along efficiently.
It’s important to respond on time. If you don’t provide the additional evidence as requested, the USCIS officer may deny your Form I-485. It should be noted that not all applicants have to conduct an interview, or provide additional evidence.
8. Check your case status
If at any time you wish to check your case status, you can check your case status online or call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. When you reach out, can check the status of your Form I-485. You should have all the necessary information available they may ask. USCIS representatives may ask for information about your application, including your receipt number, A-Number, name, and date of birth.
Having the information available for the USCIS office when you reach out will let the process of checking your case status go as smoothly and easy as it possibly can.
9. Receive a decision
After all of the necessary steps are taken, it will be time for the USCIS office to come to a decision. Once they decide on your application, they will send you a written notice that informs you of their decision.
The initial notice, if approved, will be an approval from the USCIS offices. You will typically receive your actual Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) at a later date. The first notice will be your adjustment status approval.
If your application is denied, then the decision notice will provide you with the reason, or reasons, why your application was denied. The notice will also inform you if the decision can be appealed.
You typically cannot appeal the decision to deny an adjustment of status application. However, that doesn’t mean that is the only route to take. Even if you cannot appeal the denial, there are motions you can file to reopen or reconsider the application. Both appeals and motions are filed using Form I-290B.
Additional notes and considerations
Beyond the steps to submit your Adjustment of Status, there are a few other things that may be good to know.
First, if you are outside of the United States, the traditional method of Adjustment of Status won’t apply. You will have to obtain your visa abroad through a different set of steps called consular processing.
In addition, if you move during the process, you’ll need to inform the USCIS office of the change of address within 10 days of moving. This way any new paperwork, requests, or notices from the USCIS will go to the proper address and you won’t have to worry about any unnecessary delays or complications during this process.
If you need to learn more about the process from the USCIS, please click here.
If you have additional questions, or need to request a consultation with an immigration law specialist, you can book now using this link to schedule a consultation.