Are you an immigrant who wants to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States? If so, you may be eligible to apply for adjustment of status, which is the process of changing your immigration status from a nonimmigrant or temporary visa holder to a green card holder. However, applying for adjustment of status is not a simple or straightforward process. It involves several steps, documents, fees, and potential challenges that you need to be aware of and prepare for. In this blog post, we will provide you with a detailed roadmap for the adjustment of status application process, covering the essential requirements, common pitfalls, and tips for a successful outcome.
Step 1: Determine if you are eligible to apply for adjustment of status
Adjustment of status is one of the pathways to citizenship for eligible immigrants who are already in the United States. By applying for adjustment of status, you can obtain a green card without having to leave the country and go through consular processing. However, not everyone can apply for adjustment of status. You need to meet certain criteria and follow specific procedures depending on your category of immigration.
The first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you are eligible to apply for a green card based on your current immigration status and the category of immigration you are seeking. There are different categories of immigration that allow you to apply for adjustment of status, such as family-based, employment-based, humanitarian-based, diversity lottery, and special immigrant. Each category has its own eligibility criteria and procedures that you need to follow. For example, if you are applying for a family-based green card, you need to have a qualifying family relationship with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who can sponsor you. If you are applying for an employment-based green card, you need to have a job offer from a U.S. employer who can file a petition on your behalf.
To find out if you are eligible to apply for adjustment of status under your specific category of immigration, you can visit the USCIS website and check the eligibility requirements and instructions for each category. You can also consult with an immigration attorney or an accredited representative who can advise you on your options and eligibility.
Step 2: File an immigrant petition (if applicable)
The next step in the adjustment of status process is to file an immigrant petition with USCIS, if applicable. An immigrant petition is a form that requests USCIS to classify you as eligible for a green card under a certain category of immigration. Depending on your category of immigration, the immigrant petition may be filed by you or by someone else on your behalf, such as your family member, employer, or humanitarian organization.
Some of the common immigrant petitions that are required for adjustment of status are:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for family-based green cards
- Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for employment-based green cards
- Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, for certain humanitarian-based and special immigrant green cards
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, for investor-based green cards
You can find the complete list of immigrant petitions and their instructions on the USCIS website. You need to file the appropriate immigrant petition with USCIS along with the required supporting documents and fees. You also need to make sure that your immigrant petition is approved before you can proceed to the next step of applying for adjustment of status.
Step 3: Check visa availability (if applicable)
The third step in the adjustment of status process is to check visa availability, if applicable. Visa availability refers to the number of green cards that are available each year for each category and country of immigration. The U.S. government imposes annual limits on how many green cards can be issued in each category and country, which means that there may be more applicants than available visas. This creates a backlog or waiting list for some categories and countries, especially those that are in high demand.
To check visa availability, you need to refer to the monthly Visa Bulletin issued by the Department of State (DOS). The Visa Bulletin shows the cut-off dates for each category and country of immigration. The cut-off date is the date when the immigrant petition was filed with USCIS. If your priority date (the date when your immigrant petition was filed) is earlier than or equal to the cut-off date in your category and country, then a visa is available for you and you can proceed to apply for adjustment of status. If your priority date is later than the cut-off date in your category and country, then you have to wait until a visa becomes available for you.
You can find the current and past Visa Bulletins on the DOS website. You can also sign up for email alerts from DOS to receive notifications when a new Visa Bulletin is published.
Step 4: File Form I-485
The fourth step in the adjustment of status process is to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS. Form I-485 is the main form that allows you to apply for adjustment of status and request a green card. You need to file Form I-485 along with the required supporting documents and fees. Some of the common supporting documents that you need to submit with Form I-485 are:
- A copy of your birth certificate
- A copy of your passport and visa
- A copy of your I-94 arrival/departure record
- A copy of your approved immigrant petition (if applicable)
- A copy of your marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Two passport-style photos
- A medical examination report (Form I-693) completed by a designated civil surgeon
- An affidavit of support (Form I-864) completed by your sponsor (if applicable)
- Evidence of eligibility for your category of immigration, such as employment offer letter, family relationship documents, humanitarian status documents, etc.
You can find the complete list of supporting documents and instructions for Form I-485 on the [USCIS website]. You need to make sure that you file Form I-485 within one year of your visa becoming available, otherwise you may lose your eligibility to adjust status. You also need to make sure that you file Form I-485 while you are in valid immigration status and that you do not violate any terms or conditions of your current status.
Step 5: Go to your Application Support Center appointment
The fifth step in the adjustment of status process is to go to your Application Support Center (ASC) appointment. An ASC is a facility where USCIS collects biometric information, such as fingerprints, photographs, and signatures, from applicants. USCIS uses biometric information to verify your identity and conduct background and security checks. After you file Form I-485, USCIS will send you a notice with the date, time, and location of your ASC appointment. You need to attend your ASC appointment as scheduled and bring the required documents and fees. You can find more information about ASC appointments on the [USCIS website].
Step 6: Go to your interview (if applicable)
The sixth step in the adjustment of status process is to go to your interview, if applicable. An interview is a meeting where a USCIS officer asks you questions about your application and eligibility for a green card. Not all applicants are required to attend an interview, but USCIS may request an interview for some cases, especially for family-based and marriage-based green cards. USCIS will send you a notice with the date, time, and location of your interview if you are required to attend one. You need to attend your interview as scheduled and bring the required documents and fees. You can find more information about interviews on the [USCIS website].
Step 7: Respond to request for additional evidence (if applicable)
The seventh step in the adjustment of status process is to respond to request for additional evidence (RFE), if applicable. An RFE is a letter that USCIS sends you if they need more information or evidence from you to make a decision on your application. An RFE may ask you to submit additional documents, clarify some information, or correct some errors on your application. You need to respond to an RFE within the specified time frame and follow the instructions carefully. If you fail to respond to an RFE or provide insufficient or incomplete information, USCIS may deny your application. You can find more information about RFEs on the [USCIS website].
Step 8: Check your case status
The eighth step in the adjustment of status process is to check your case status. Your case status is the progress of your application from filing to decision. You can check your case status online on the [USCIS website] by entering your receipt number, which is a 13-digit number that starts with three letters and is found on your receipt notice. You can also sign up for email or text alerts from USCIS to receive notifications when there is an update on your case status.
Step 9: Receive a decision
The ninth and final step in the adjustment of status process is to receive a decision from USCIS. A decision is the outcome of your application, which can be either approved or denied. If USCIS approves your application, they will send you a notice of approval and a green card in the mail. Congratulations! You are now a lawful permanent resident of the United States. If USCIS denies your application, they will send you a notice of denial explaining the reasons for denial and your options to appeal or reapply. You can find more information about decisions on the [USCIS website].
Tips for a successful adjustment of status application
Applying for adjustment of status can be a complex and lengthy process that requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some tips that can help you increase your chances of success:
- Review the eligibility requirements and instructions for each form and category of immigration carefully before filing.
- Gather all the required supporting documents and evidence in advance and make copies for yourself.
- Fill out each form completely and accurately and sign where required