Adjustment of Status

Table of Contents

Adjustment of Status – Applying for a Green Card

Adjustment of status is the process that lets certain visa holders who are already inside the United States apply for lawful permanent resident status without ever leaving the country. This is preferred by many of our immigration clients because the Adjustment of Status process lets them become lawful permanent residents without having to return to their home country.

If you are not already in the country, then you’d have to get your visa by going through Consular Processing. If you aren’t already in the U.S., you can’t apply for a green card through the Adjustment of Status process.

The process of getting a green card through Adjustment of Status can take between eight months and two years. Keep in mind that the timeline can vary a lot depending on how complicated your application is, whether you submitted all the right documents from the start, and how busy USCIS is at the time. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help the process go more smoothly and as a result, speed up your wait.

The Law Offices of Erin J. Lee has helped immigration clients from all over the world. We understand that our clients like to have some basic knowledge before before meeting with a lawyer about immigration issues. That’s why we created this guide to help you understand the process of Adjustment of Status.

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Adjustment of Status Guide

The Adjustment of Status process can be long and complicated. There are many opportunities for mistakes, so it’s important to get a lawyer’s help when applying for a green card. 

Here are the steps that need to be taken for Adjustment of Status:

  1. Figure out if you are eligible to apply for a green card
  2. File an immigrant petition
  3. Check visa availability
  4. File Form I-485
  5. Go to your Application Support Center appointment
  6. Go to your interview
  7. Respond to any requests for more evidence
  8. Wait for USCIS to make a decision.

Each step listed above is detailed in this Adjustment of Status guide below.

Adjustment Of Status - Erin J. Lee (1)

Are You Eligible for a Green Card?

Immigration laws in the U.S. allow for a lot of ways for people to get a green card. Whether you are eligible for Adjustment of Status might vary depending on which immigrant category you plan to apply under. Basically, the very first step is to figure out if you fit into a specific eligible immigrant category.

Green card eligibility categories include:

  • Through family
  • Through employment
  • As a special immigrant
  • Through refugee or asylee status
  • As a victim of human trafficking or a crime
  • Through registry – if you have continuously lived in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 1972
  • Some other specific, less common categories.

Once you find the immigrant category that you might be able to apply under, you can then figure out what the eligibility requirements are for your category. Since the eligibility requirements can be complicated, you should also discuss your individual circumstances with your attorney.

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Filing the Immigrant Petition

Most people trying to get their green card will end up needing to file at least two forms. 

Besides just the adjustment of status application for the green card, you will also likely need to have your sponsor file a petition on your behalf. 

It is possible that you can sponsor yourself, but you and your attorney can determine that together.

There other required forms will be determined by how you are eligible for a green card. 

Here are the most common forms you might need to submit (or have submitted for you) in order for your Adjustment of Status to move forward:

Filing Out Your Immigrant Petition - Erin J. Lee

Other petitions that might come up include:

  • Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
  • Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
  • Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
  • Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant

You almost always have to have an approved immigrant petition before you can file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Sometimes you might be able to file your Form I-485 when the immigrant petition is filed or pending. Your attorney will advise you on when to file your application for Adjustment of Status.

Checking Visa Availability

One very frustrating truth that our immigration clients going through the Adjustment of Status process face is that you aren’t typically allowed to actually file your Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category.

To see how complex this step can be, you can learn more about visa availability on the USCIS Visa Availability and Priority Dates page. You can also take a look at the Adjustment of Status Filing Charts and the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. Having an attorney handle this for you will be a huge relief.

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Filing Form I-485

Your attorney will help you complete your Form I-485 so that it’s ready to file as soon as a visa is available in your category. 

When filing Form I-485, you will need to submit plenty of other documentation. 

Your attorney will make sure that all of the documentation that you need is complete before submitting in order to prevent delays in processing your Form I-485 when it gets in the USCIS official’s hands.

Below are ways you can help prevent an unnecessary delay in the decision on your Form I-485:

  • Submit your Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination when you file Form I-485
  • Submit you Vaccination Record when you file your Form I-485
  • File all the required initial evidence asked for in the form’s instructions
  • File all the supporting documentation asked for in the form
  • Make sure to use the current edition for Form I-485
Filing Out Form I-485 For Adjustment Of Status

If you do these things, you might be able to skip over the Request for Evidence step of the process that usually comes later. USCIS may have everything they need and not need to send any request for more information. USCIS has checklists for evidence that they need with your form I-485, and you can find those here or your attorney can help you.

Your Application Support Center Appointment

After USCIS gets your Form I-485, they will schedule a biometrics services appointment for you at a local Application Support Center. The biometrics services might sound intimidating, but it’s just an appointment you have to attend so they can get a copy of your fingerprints, a picture of you, and your signature. While you’re there they will ask you to sign some additional paperwork as well.

When they send you the notice of your appointment, they will tell you when and where it will take place. It’s important to keep this appointment to avoid delays in processing or the denial of your application altogether.

The Interview

USCIS officials will need to interview you, unless the interview is waived by USCIS. They will review your case and let you know if they think an interview is necessary. USCIS makes that decision on a case-by-case basis, but you should plan on having an interview.

If they decide that they do need to interview you, you must show up. They will let you know when and where the interview will take place, but it will be at a USCIS office. While you are there, you will have to answer questions under oath or affirmation. 

When you go to your interview, you will have to bring originals of all the documentation that you submitted with your Form I-485. They might ask your sponsor to come too, and if they do, USCIS will need to see their original documents too. 

USCIS Request for Evidence

USCIS will request for more evidence if:

  • You didn’t turn in all the required evidence
  • Your evidence is no longer valid
  • They need more information to decide your eligibility

If they send you a Request for Evidence, it will tell you exactly what they need. It will also explain where to send it and your deadline for responding.

Keep in mind, if you don’t respond to them by their deadline, the USCIS officer might deny your Form I-485 altogether.

Waiting For the Decision

You can check case status online while you wait for USCIS to make a decision about your Adjustment of Status application. If everything goes well, your visa status will be adjusted, and you will become a lawful permanent resident.

Let an Experienced Immigration Attorney Help with Your Adjustment of Status

If you are in the country legally and want to file an application for an Adjustment of Status, make sure you consult with an experienced immigration attorney. The Law Offices of Erin J. Lee have helped countless clients get their green cards through Adjustment of Status. If you need help with an immigration issue, request a consultation today.

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