Updated: Aug 17
What is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of Status is one of the ways to get a Green Card (a Lawful Permanent Resident status). If you are a foreign person who needs a Green Card and you are already in the US, you can apply for Adjustment of Status without having to return to your home country.
Adjusting Your Status: How Should You Do It?
1. Make sure you’re eligible to file for a Green Card.
Eligibility to apply for a Green Card will depend on the Immigrant category
you’re applying for. But for the purposes of this article, let’s stick to the Adjustment of
Status process if you’re a spouse of a US person.
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 245, you have to
meet certain background criteria, including:
· Having a Visa ready. Those marrying US Citizens automatically have this.
Lawful Permanent Residents have to wait for their Priority to become current.
· Not having disruption in status, unlawful employment, and previous Visa
violations (Exceptions for spouses of US Citizens and other immediate relatives
· Having entered the US lawfully with evidence of that Admission or Parole (not
including Alien Crewman).
· Having Financial Support through a Sponsor and being Self-Sufficient.
· Not having other inadmissibility issues.
You can check the eligibility requirements on the USCIS Website.
Check the availability of your Visa.
If you are a spouse of a US Citizen, a Visa is always available. You can file
your Form I-485 at the same time that your spouse files for your Form I-130. This
option is only available for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens, namely spouses,
unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. Citizens.
However, Visa issuances for non-immediate family-based petitions are
limited. You need to check the Visa Bulletin if your Visa is available. To do this, identify
your priority date (the date your spouse filed your petition).
On the Visa Bulletin, there will be charts that will tell you whether your
priority date is current. If it is, then you can file Form I-485.
Check for Inadmissibility Issues
Inadmissibility is having criminal violations, health violations, or whether you
practice a custom that is unlawful in the US (like polygamy). All of these are stated in
If you don’t have any of these, you can file Form I-485. It’s important to do a
full analysis of your background before going ahead with the Adjustment of Status. If
you think that you might have Inadmissibility issues, it’s best to consult a lawyer.
2. File Form I-485.
When filing for Adjustment of Status, there are a lot of other
documents that go along with Form I-485. These include:
o Birth certificate
o Proof of lawful entry or admission (like the Visa stamp, Form I-94, Advance
o Marriage documents, if applicable
o Divorce documents, if applicable
o Name change documents, if applicable
o Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, if applicable
o Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, if applicable
o 2 Passport-style photos - If you’re applying for a work permit and travel
permission, prepare 2 photos for each form, just to be safe
SIDE NOTE on Work Permit and Travel Permission: When you file Form I-485, you are
not allowed to travel internationally. If you leave the United States, you’re practically
abandoning your application. So, in addition to I-485, you could also apply for a work
permit with it, called the Employment Authorization Document or EAD, and also
permission to travel called Advance Parole Travel Document.
Mailing Your I-485 Package
You should always go to the USCIS website to see what the current fee is
and what the current mailing location is. The mailing location will be based on Form I-
485. That’s the primary application. All these other applications should be included in
that package and mailed based on the address for Form I-485.
3. After Filing
Once you submit your I-485 Package, expect to receive a receipt a few weeks
later. The receipt should have your case number. If you applied for a work permit
and/or travel permission, there will be separate receipts for those. You will not be
issued receipts for the I-864 and the I-944.
Here are the next 3 things that will happen:
· Biometrics Appointment – Bring valid photo identification, such as your Green
Card, passport, or driver’s license.
· Medical Exam - You can submit your accomplished Form I-693 after filing the I-
485 (either mail it or bring it with you during your interview).
· Interview at the Local Field Office - If there is no interview needed, you will just
get your Green Card in the mail.
· If USCIS feels that some documents are missing, they can either just deny the case
— that’s the new rule under the Trump Administration — or they could send you a
Request for Evidence (RFE). If you get an RFE, you can submit the documents within
the allotted time.
· Frequently, USCIS may say that they didn’t receive a particular document when, in
fact, you have submitted it, or that the filing fee you provided wasn’t enough.
· You should be careful about what you say in your forms so as not to risk committing
fraud or misrepresentation.
· If there’s criminal history involved in a case, that could be problematic. If you feel like
you have issues, you should definitely consult with an attorney.
· Some countries have a Visa Waiver Program or the ESTA (Electronic System for
Travel Authorization). People from certain countries can enter the US without
applying for a Visa first. They just file this form and enter to the United States for 90
days. If someone uses that, they cannot file for Adjustment of Status. Some people don’t realize that they applied for Adjustment of Status on the Visa Waiver Program. Their case could get denied and get sent back to their home country and be banned from entering the US.