Adjustment of Status is the process of applying for lawful permanent residency in the United States. The process is commonly known as applying for a green card. Becoming a lawful permanent resident can happen through a number of ways, including family members, a job or job offer, seeking asylum, or other special provisions. Obtaining Permanent Residency Status through Adjustment of Status is for those who are already in the United States legally with a visa.
What Is the Purpose of the Adjustment of Status?
A green card allows you to work and live in the United States as a permanent resident. Adjustment of Status gives applicants the opportunity to obtain a green card by using the eligible visa they already have and without the need to go back to your home country.
If you are outside the United States and wish to have permanent residency in the U.S., you will go through another process called consular processing. The nearest U.S. embassy will process your green card. If you are currently outside of the United States, we are available to answer questions.
Who Qualifies for Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of Status requirements — paperwork, fees, and evidence — depend on the green card you are applying for. Even though green cards provide permanent residency, the type of green card you apply for depends on your current visa status.
Green card eligibility falls into three categories, with a variety of visas associated with each category. You can qualify through:
Family: you may be eligible if you are an immediate family member, a relative of a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, or a fiancé or widow of a U.S. citizen. You may also be eligible if you have been an abused family member of a U.S. citizen.
Employment: Certain employment-based immigration visas are eligible. If you are a first, second, or third preference immigrant employee, a physician with a National Interest Waiver, or are an immigrant investor, you are eligible for adjustment of status.
Special Immigration: You may be eligible for a green card if you are a religious worker, special immigrant juvenile, or other qualified special immigrants
Other: It may fall under another eligibility criteria. Your status depends on your situation in the US, your relationship with a US citizen, your home country, or your relationship with a government entity.
Consider the 90-Day Rule
Even though you may be legally eligible to pursue a green card, the U.S. Department of State instilled a 90-day rule for evaluating misrepresentation in cases. Many temporary visas cannot be used to immigrate permanently, or else it may look like you applied for the temporary visa with the intent of getting permanent residency.
Adjustment of Status Process
Step1: Determine Your Eligibility
Identify if your current visa status can be used to apply for adjustment of status. Your current visa also directs you to which form to use for your immigrant petition.
Step 2: File an Immigrant Petition
An immigrant petition needs to be filed before filing an I-485, the adjustment of status form. In some cases, your immigrant petition can be filed concurrently with the I-485. Most immigrant petitions also require a sponsor to petition on your behalf.
Common immigration petition forms and filing fees are can be found here:
Form I-130 — family and relative green card: $535 fee
Form I-140 — petition for an immigrant worker: $700 fee; if you want a guaranteed 15-day processing time, use Form I-907 with a $2500 filing fee
Form I-601 — for Special Immigrant Juveniles: $930
There are many other required forms that vary depending on your current status. Once submitted, the USCIS must approve your petition. The timeline for immigrant petitions can be different for each individual applicant — lasting from a few months to over a year.
Step 3: Check Visa Availability
A Form I-485 cannot be filed until a visa available for you. Your visa category depends on the type of green card application (family, employment, etc.), your home country, and the amount of people in your country also applying for that same green card.
Step 4: Form I-485
When your visa is available, you’ll file your Form I-485, adjustment of status. When the document is completed, you’ll send the form and evidence to the corresponding direct filing address.
Step 5: Biometrics Appointment
The USCIS will send you a notice for a biometrics appointment where you’ll get your fingerprints and eye screening done.
Step 6: Interview (if applicable)
You may be asked to have an adjustment of status interview. Bring all of your original documents to the interview. An officer will put you under oath to ask questions about your green card application.
The USCIS will send you a written decision notice accepting or denying your application.
The adjustment of status application requires a Form I-485. You will need to thoroughly read through the document and fill out all the necessary questions. Don’t forget to sign the form before sending it off.
Adjustment of Status Checklist
You will need to present required material and evidence to support your green card application. In general, the following will be required along with your Form I-485:
Passport style photographs
Copy of government-issued identification including photograph
Copy of birth certificate (if non-existent, medical records or proof of non-existence)
Documentation of your current immigrant category
Certified police and court records of any convictions and criminal charges
Affidavit of support
Supplementing additional forms
Additional information and supporting evidence will be required when completing and filing Form I-485 depending on your adjustment of status category. For example, to apply for family preference, you must have proof that you maintained lawful residency in the United States since your arrival.
Adjustment of Status Fee
Form I-485 fees vary depending on age and status. Remember that you must pay your immigrant petition form in addition to the adjustment of status fees.
Applicants under the age of 14 and filing form I-485 with a parent: $750 fee
Applicants under the age of 14 and not filing form I-485 with a parent: $1,140 fee
Applicants aged 14–78: $1,140 plus an additional fee of $85–$1,225 total fee
Applicants aged 79 or older: $1,140 fee
Applicants filing form I-485 after having been admitted to the US as a refugee: No fee
Green Card Timeline
The Form I-485 processing time for green cards does depend on your current status, your country, and the amount of people applying for a particular green card. The US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin will help determine a timeline and when you can apply for a green card. Your immigration attorney will be able to clarify your individual time frame.
The I-485 timeline may take a long time. Once you are approved, adjustment of status processing time may take up to 90 days after you’ve paid your processing date fee.
Working with an Immigrant Attorney
The process for applying for an adjustment of status can be a long process and requires avid attention to detail. Having an attorney to help gather evidence, conduct thorough reviews of documents, assess individualized timelines, and support you can make all the difference in applying for your adjustment of status. The adjustment of status timeline varies and may take years. The experienced immigration lawyers of Lynnwood & Snohomish County are seasoned in green card applications and can direct you each step throughout the entire process.
Contact Immigration Lawyers Serving Lynnwood & Snohomish County Today
Steven Palmer of Curtis, Casteel & Palmer, PLLC is here to help you every step of the way in the process of adjusting your status to obtain permanent residency. Speak with an Immigration Lawyer today to start your adjustment of status application.