Adjustment of status is a process that permits
certain people in the U.S. to apply for lawful permanent resident ("green
card") status without having to go outside the U.S. to obtain an immigrant
visa/permanent resident status (consular processing). Not everyone qualifies
for Adjustment of Status. Those who do must apply with an office of the USCIS
and all further processing will be done by that agency.
Who is eligible for Adjustment of
A person who is already in the United States in
valid nonimmigrant status and if one or more of the following categories apply to you:
You are the spouse, parent,
unmarried child under age 21, the unmarried son or daughter over age 21, the
married son or daughter, or the brother or sister of a United States citizen
and have a visa petition approved in your behalf.
You are the spouse or unmarried
son or daughter of any age of a lawful permanent resident and you have a
family-based visa petition approved in your behalf.
For more information please
refer to the green card by family section.
You are an alien who has an
approved I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition filed on your behalf by a U.S. employer.
For more information please refer to the green card
by employment section.
You were a fianc? who was
admitted to the United States on a K-1 visa
and then married the U.S. citizen who applied for the K-1 visa for you. (If you
married the U.S. citizen but not within the 90-day time limit, your spouse must file USCIS Form I-130, Petition
for Alien Relative). Your unmarried, minor children are also eligible for
adjustment of status. If you did not marry the U.S. citizen who filed the K-1
petition in your behalf, or if you married another U.S. citizen or lawful
permanent resident, you are not eligible to adjust status in the U.S.
You are an asylee or refugee who
has been in the United States for at least one year after being granted asylum
or refugee status and still qualify for asylum or refugee status.
You received notice from the
Department of State that you have won a visa in the Diversity Visa Lottery.
You are a Cuban citizen or
native who has been in the U.S. for at least one year after being inspected,
admitted, or paroled into the U.S. Your spouse and children who are residing
with you in the U.S. may also be eligible for adjustment of status.
Resident Since Before 01/01/72:
You have been a continuous
resident of the United States since before January 1, 1972. See 8 CFR 249.2(a),
Other Nationality-Based Programs
Your parent became a lawful
permanent resident after you were born. You may be eligible to receive
following-to-join benefits if you are the unmarried child under age 21 of the
lawful permanent resident. In these cases, you may apply for adjustment of
status at the same time that your parent applies for following-to-join benefits
Your spouse became a lawful
permanent resident after you were married. You may be eligible to receive
following-to-join benefits. In these cases, you may apply for adjustment of
status at the same time that your spouse applies for following-to-join benefits
The following classes of people are not eligible
for adjustment of status:
entered the U.S. while you were in transit to another country without
obtaining a visa.
entered the U.S. while you were a nonimmigrant crewman.
- You were
not admitted or paroled into the United States after being inspected by a
U.S. Immigration inspector.
- You are
employed in the United States without USCIS authorization or you are no
longer legally in the country (except through no fault of your own or for
some technical reason). This rule does not apply to you if: You are the
immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (parent, spouse, or unmarried child
under 21 years old).
foreign medical graduates, international organization employees and family
- You are a
J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor who must comply with the two-year foreign
residence requirement, and you have not met or been granted a waiver for
- You have
an A (diplomatic status), E (treaty trader or investor), or G
(representative to international organization) nonimmigrant status, or
have an occupation that would allow you have this status. This rule will
not apply to you if you complete USCIS Form I-508 (I-508F for French
nationals) to waive diplomatic rights, privileges and immunities. If you
are an A or G nonimmigrant, you must also submit USCIS Form I-566.
- You were
admitted to Guam as a visitor under the Guam Visa Waiver Program. (This
does not apply to immediate relatives.)
- You were
admitted into the United States as a visitor under the Visa Waiver
Program. (This rule does not apply to you if you are the immediate
relative of a U.S. citizen (parent, spouse, or unmarried child under 21).)
- You are
already a conditional permanent resident.
- You were
admitted as a K-1 fianc? but did not marry the U.S. citizen who filed the
petition for you. Or, you were admitted as the K-2 child of a fianc? and
your parent did not marry the U.S. citizen who filed the petition for you.
Important information regarding visa numbers
and adjustment of status:
If you are a Family or Employment based applicant,
you must have an immigrant visa number available from the State Department unless
you are in a category that is exempt from numerical limitations. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are exempt
from this requirement because visas are always available in this category.
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are parents, spouses, and unmarried
children under 21. Other immigrant categories that are exempt from numerical
limitations and do not need a visa number include special immigrant juvenile
and special immigrant military petitions.
For the unmarried son or daughter (over 21 years
of age) of a US Citizen, brother or sister of a US Citizen, or the spouse or
children of lawful permanent residents, visa numbers are limited by law every
year. This means that even if the USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for
you, there may not be a visa number available. In some cases, several years
could pass between the time the USCIS approves your immigrant visa petition and
the State Department gives you an immigrant visa number.
There are huge backlogs in the category for
asylees and refugees. In these types of cases it may take 8-10 years for a visa
to become available.
When a person’s visa is available, he/she applies
for adjustment of status by filing the appropriate forms, filing fee and required supporting documents with
the USCIS Regional Service Center designated for the processing of these types
of applications. Some of the supporting documents include: results of a medical
examination, copy of the applicant’s passport and proof of lawful entry to the
U.S. (if any), and birth certificate. Family based petitions require evidence
of the familial relationships and Affidavits of Support. Most employment based
petitions require evidence of a permanent full-time job offer and evidence of
the employer’s ability to pay the wage. Applications based upon a person being
245(i) eligible require the I-485, Supplement A and $1,000 penalty fee.
If the applicant wishes to work or travel abroad
while the adjustment of status application is pending, additional forms must be
Form I-765 Application for
Form I-131 Application for
These applications can be filed concurrently with
the filing of the Application for Adjustment of Status or at anytime while the
Application is pending with the USCIS. You will need to file the appropriate filing fee and supporting documentation listed
on the form’s instructions.
What happens after the Application for
Adjustment of Status is filed?
Not all adjustment of status applicants are
interviewed, although the law provides that any adjustment applicant may be
interviewed. Interviews are always conducted in marriage cases, but are less
frequent in other family relationships. Interviews are quite rare in
In some cases, the USCIS will issue Requests for
Evidence. These requests are usually made when any of the required documents
are not submitted. The requests for evidence allow a reasonable of time by which
to respond; however, if a request is not responded to the application will be
After approval for adjustment of status, it takes
some months before the actual green card is obtained. If the approval follows
an interview, the USCIS will stamp the applicant’s passport with an indication
that they are a U.S. permanent resident. If there is no interview, the
applicant will receive a notice that the application has been approved, which
they can take to a local USCIS office and obtain the stamp. A few months later,
they will receive the green card.
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