Adjustment of Status Explained

Eligible foreign nationals in the United States on non-immigrant visas, are allowed to change their status and become lawful permanent residents of the United States. To do so, they must apply for an adjustment of status by filing Form I-485. However, all the non-immigrants may not become eligible to adjust status and they need to meet a few prerequisites to apply for adjustment of status. 

Foreign nationals in the United States may file Form I-485, to adjust status and to become permanent residents and they need not get back to their home countries to file an application for adjustment of status. This process does not apply to foreign nationals who are outside the United States and people who are not within the United States, can become lawful permanent residents through consular processing.

You must be physically present in the country, to apply for adjustment of status and you must be admissible into the country. Before you file an application for adjustment of status, you must first make sure that you are eligible to adjust your status. Foreign nationals who hold non-immigrant visas are likely to become eligible for adjustment of status if they are sponsored by their US citizen relatives or by US employers. In such cases, the US employer or the relative who is ready to sponsor you must file a petition for you. However, asylees and refugees can also file applications for adjustment of status and obtain Green Cards. 

If you are in the United States on a non-immigrant visa and if your US citizen family member is willing to sponsor you for lawful status, the sponsor must file Form I-130, for you. If a US employer offers you a job and if the employer is willing to sponsor you for lawful status, Form I-140 must be filed by the US employer. In these cases, after the immigrant petition filed by your relative or the US employer, is approved, you may file Form I-485. You may not wait until the USCIS approves Form I-130 if you are a US citizen’s immediate relative and you may file Form I-485, while Form I-130 is filed and this process is called concurrent filing. 

If you are not an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen and if you belong to some other category, you must not file Form I-485 while the sponsor files an immigrant petition for you. You cannot go for concurrent filing if you are not an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.

You must carefully complete Form I-485 and you must not enter incorrect information. Moreover, you must not fail to include the required supporting documents along with the application package. USCIS will approve your application only after reviewing your supporting documents and making sure that you are eligible for lawful status.

After the approval of your application, you will be required to report for an immigration interview after appearing for biometrics collection. USCIS will decide on your case, after your interview and send you its decision by mail. Hence, this process will help non-immigrants in the United States to adjust status and to obtain U.S. Green Cards.

Generally, United States citizens are permitted to bring their family members to the United States and to sponsor them for US Green Cards. The country also grants this privilege to the Green Card holders and the foreign nationals who are granted lawful permanent resident status also can sponsor their immediate relatives and help them to obtain Green Cards. The United States permits the permanent residents to sponsor their relatives for lawful status in order to promote family unity. But the Green Card holders cannot petition for and sponsor different categories of relatives who the U.S. citizens are permitted to sponsor and they can only sponsor their spouses and children to sponsor them, they must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

While filing this form, Green Card holders must submit copies of certain documents and proof of lawful status in the country. If they are sponsoring their spouses, they must submit copies of their marriage certificates to prove that a relationship exists and copies of birth certificates, while filing petitions for their children and they need to go through the form instructions page for information on supporting documents.

However, Green Card holders must submit copies of their Green Cards, while filing Form I-130 for their spouses and children. Spouses who are in America at the time of filing Form I-130, can change their status to immigrant status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, after the approval of Form I-130.

There are four preference categories and the Green Card holders can sponsor their spouses under the second preference category. Under the second preference category (2A), they can sponsor their spouses and minor children and under the second preference category (2B), Green Card holders can sponsor their unmarried adult children. Spouses of Green Card holders will be put on waiting lists and they will have to wait until visa numbers become available. But the immediate relatives of US citizens need not wait and applications filed by their US citizen immediate relatives will be processed sooner. But the immediate relatives of Green Card holders must at times, wait for years to immigrate to America.

Spouses currently outside America will have to go through consular processing and apply for immigrant visas at US consulates in their home countries. They can apply for immigrant visas only after the US consulate notifies them about the approval of their immigrant petitions. Those immigrant visas will permit them to travel to America as permanent residents and they can get Green Cards after getting into America. But this process is quite simple for the spouses who are currently in America and beneficiaries who are in America as non-immigrants can file Form I-485 for adjustment of status and change their non-immigrant status to immigrant status while in America.

Spouses who are eligible for adjustment of status need not go through consular processing. But they need to wait until their priority dates become current and only after that they can file for adjustment of status and in this case, their current non-immigrant visas must be valid until they reach the top of the waiting list. But the immediate relatives of US citizens, can apply for adjustment of status while their US citizen relatives file Form I-130 for them. After their adjustment of status applications are approved by the USCIS, they will be granted Green Cards and they can remain in America as lawful permanent residents along with their permanent resident spouses.