The process for applying for legal permanent residency (also known as a green card) from within the United States is called Adjustment of Status. The person applying for the Adjustment of Status is called “the applicant”. The Adjustment of Status application is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When the applicant applies for Adjustment of Status, they can usually stay in the United States while their application is being adjudicated, even if their visa expires before their green card is approved. Another way of obtaining a green card is through the Consular Process. Consular Processing is when the applicant attends an immigration interview outside of the United States. Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing have unique requirements, forms, timelines, and costs, but the eligibility requirements are similar. The law offices of Janell Freeman can help you figure out which process best suits your individual circumstances.
In the case of a marriage-based Adjustment of Status (spousal adjustment), the purpose of the application is also to show that the applicant (the foreign spouse) has a good faith marriage with their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. When the applicant is filing an Adjustment of Status based on marriage, it is often possible to file Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time (a process called “concurrent filing”).
Adjustments of Status can also be filed under other categories if the visa is current and the person otherwise qualifies. For example, an individual with an approved 1-360 or U visa might also qualify for Adjustment of Status.
In addition to the exclusions listed above, there are “inadmissibility” reasons that may prevent someone from filing for Adjustment of Status. This means that you will be disqualified from receiving a green card based on certain factors specific to your case. These factors of inadmissibility include:
Depending on the family relationship or green card category, waivers of inadmissibility can help remedy some reasons for disqualification (also known as “grounds of inadmissibility”).
The application for Adjustment of Status needs to be submitted along with supporting documents to prove that the applicant is eligible for a green card. The following supporting documents are included with an Adjustment of Status :
The fees for applying for Adjustment of Status are as follows:
To pay the Form I-485, use a personal check or money order. If you make the payment with a credit card, you must complete Form G-1450. The cost of the Adjustment of Status application fee is non-refundable.
After filing the Adjustment of Status, the applicant is notified to go to an Application Support Center (ASC). There, the applicant registers their fingerprints, along with their signature, and photographs are taken. This process is also called the biometrics appointment.
Biometrics (fingerprints) and criminal background checks are required for security reasons. During the appointment at the ASC, the applicant certifies the authenticity of all the information provided.
You are allowed to have your immigration attorney with you at your adjustment of status interview. An interview is not always required, but oftentimes, the USCIS requires the interview before the Adjustment of Status is approved. If you applied for Adjustment of Status based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you can count on you and your U.S. spouse both being called in for the USCIS interview. At the interview, the applicant must respond under oath to the questions asked and/or sign a statement.
The documentation that supports the Adjustment of Status must be presented in its original form. This is the identity documents, proof of eligibility, and any other evidence that was filed with the Adjustment of Status application.
During the interview, the Adjustment of Status application and the applicant are scrutinized. At the interview, an applicant with a criminal record will be thoroughly questioned about the circumstances of each and every arrest. Family-based green card applicants will typically be questioned about their sponsor and relationship with the sponsor. The officer will want to confirm that the immigrant and sponsor have a genuine relationship and if the Adjustment of Status is based on marriage, that the spouse has not sponsored the applicant merely to enable them to get a green card. A person who enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading immigration laws can be prosecuted and if convicted, faces imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000.00, or both imprisonment and a fine.
If the information provided at the interview is incomplete or invalid, USCIS may require additional evidence to be presented or can deny the application. With proper preparation, the interview is not a process to be feared.
The processing time for Adjustment of Status will depend on your adjustment category and the USCIS office with jurisdiction over your application. For example, the processing time for Adjustment of Status applications filed by spouses of United States citizens in Sacramento or San Francisco, California, is 9 to 15 months.
Due to the pandemic, the Adjustment of Status process is taking much longer than usual. However, USCIS is conducting interviews and ASC appointments.
When USCIS decides on your Adjustment of Status application, they will send you a written decision notice.
If they approve your application for Adjustment of Status, the applicant will usually receive an approval notification first and a week or so later they receive their Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).
If they deny the Adjustment of Status request, the decision notice will list the reason(s) why the Adjustment of Status has been denied and whether the applicant can appeal the decision. Generally, the applicant cannot appeal a decision. However, even if they cannot appeal the denial, the applicant may still be eligible to file a motion to reopen or consider the case. This is usually accomplished by filing Form I-290B with supporting evidence and legal arguments.