Petition for Adjustment of Status

  • $1500 + Immigration Fee

Adjustment of Status: Your Path to Permanent Residence

The adjustment of status process offers a pathway for individuals currently in the United States to apply for a Green Card, securing permanent residency without the necessity of returning to their home country for visa processing. This critical process, also known as AOS, simplifies the journey for eligible non-U.S. citizens by allowing them to apply while staying within the U.S., contrasting with the consular processing that requires application from outside the United States. Understanding the nuances of adjustment of status, including eligibility criteria, necessary documentation like the Form I-485, and the process involved, is essential for those looking to navigate their way toward lawful permanent residency efficiently.

As you embark on this crucial path, be prepared for several key milestones, including the biometrics appointment, medical examination, and the potential for international travel with an employment authorization document during your application process. The adjustment of status process is notably thorough and typically extends over a year, stressing the importance of managing your case attentively to fulfill all requirements for successful residence adjustment. This article aims to guide you through each step, offering insights into required documentation, filing the I-485 application, and addressing post-approval steps to ensure you're well-equipped for this significant transition.

Eligibility Criteria

To successfully navigate the adjustment of status (AOS) process and apply for a green card, understanding the eligibility criteria is crucial. Here's a breakdown to guide you:

  • Initial Requirements:
    • o Must have been inspected, admitted, or paroled into the U.S.
    • o Must be physically present in the U.S. with a valid immigration status at the time of filing.
    • o An approved immigrant petition (e.g., Form I-130 or I-140) is necessary unless eligible for concurrent filing.
  • Visa Availability and Admissibility:
    • o An immigrant visa must be immediately available in your category (family-based, employment-based, etc.) at both the time of filing and approval.
    • o You must be admissible to the U.S. and not subject to any bars to adjustment, ensuring you have not engaged in unauthorized employment or been out of lawful status since entry.
  • Specific Conditions and Exceptions:
    • o Certain categories, like immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, refugees, or asylees, generally have a clearer path to eligibility.
    • o Beware of the 90-day rule, which scrutinizes visa adjustments made shortly after entry, potentially affecting your application.
    • o Special circumstances, such as being in removal proceedings or having entered under visa waivers, may complicate eligibility.

Required Documentation

To smoothly navigate the adjustment of the status process, assembling the correct documentation is paramount. Here's a comprehensive checklist to guide you:

  • Primary Forms:
    • 1. Immigrant Petition and Green Card Application (typically Form I-130 or I-140, and Form I-485).
    • 2. Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.
  • Appointment Essentials:
    • 1. Government-issued photo ID.
    • 2. Appointment notice, receipt notices, and documents specified in the appointment letter.
  • Additional Documentation:
    • o Two passport-style photographs.
    • o Government-issued identity document copy.
    • o Birth certificate or acceptable evidence of birth.
    • o Inspection and admission or parole documentation.
    • o Documentation of immigrant category (e.g., Form I-797 for Form I-130).
    • o Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, if required.
    • o Police and court records of all criminal charges, if any.
    • o Forms I-601, I-212, I-508, I-566, and I-485 Supplement A, as applicable.
    • o Proof of relationship for family-based applicants (marriage certificate, birth certificate, adoption decree).

This checklist covers the essentials, but remember, additional evidence may be requested during your interview. Preparing thoroughly will streamline your adjustment of status process.

Filing the Application

Before diving into the application process for your adjustment of status (AOS), ensure you've checked visa availability, unless an exception applies to you. This initial step is crucial for a smooth application process. Here's a concise guide to filing your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status:

  • Visa Availability & Filing Fees:
    • Check visa availability for your category.
    • Review the USCIS Fee Schedule for the current I-485 filing fee. As of now, the standard filing fees include a $1,140 USCIS I-485 Filing Fee and a $85 Biometrics Fee. Note: Fees are subject to change, with an increase to $1,440 scheduled for April 1, 2024.
  • Filing Location & E-Notification:
    • Determine the correct filing location based on your eligibility category by visiting the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-485 page on the USCIS website.
    • To receive an e-mail and/or text message upon form acceptance, attach a completed Form G-1145 to the first page of your application.
  • Additional Steps & Fees:
    • If concurrently filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, include the additional $535 filing fee.
    • After filing, prepare for an Application Support Center Appointment for biometrics, a crucial step in the AOS process.

Biometrics Appointment and Interview

After successfully filing your adjustment of status application, the next pivotal step is the biometrics appointment, followed by a potential interview. Understanding what to expect and how to prepare for these stages can significantly smooth your path to permanent residency.

  • Biometrics Appointment:
    • What Happens: At your biometrics appointment, USCIS will capture your fingerprints, photograph, and digital signature. This is essential for conducting background checks against FBI and DHS databases.
    • Preparation: Ensure you bring a government-issued photo ID, your appointment notice, and avoid bringing prohibited items such as weapons, food, and electronic devices.
    • Timing and Rescheduling: Appointments are typically scheduled 5-8 weeks post-filing. While rescheduling is possible, it's discouraged due to potential delays in your application process.
  • Interview Process:
    • Expectations: Not all applicants will have an interview. However, if required, it generally occurs several months to years after the biometrics, depending on various factors like application type and USCIS processing times.
    • Preparation: Review your application and supporting documents. Be ready to answer personal and background questions honestly.
    • Family Appointments: Family members applying together may receive separate appointment times. Ensure each member is prepared individually.

Managing Your Case

Managing your case effectively during the adjustment of status process is crucial to ensure a smooth path to obtaining your green card. Here are essential steps and resources to help you stay on top of your application:

  • Responding to USCIS Requests:
    • Always reply promptly to any requests for additional evidence from USCIS to avoid delays in your case processing.
  • Case Status Tracking:
    • Visit the USCIS website and use the online tool to check your case status. You'll need your unique 13-character receipt number.
    • The system will display the latest action taken on your case and outline the next steps, if any.
    • For detailed insights or issues, consider creating a personalized account at for additional benefits and tools.
  • Address Updates & Inquiries:
    • Report any address changes within 10 days of moving by updating your information online or submitting an e-Request.
    • Use the e-Request feature for issues like errors in your welcome notice or Green Card, delays in document receipt, or to request the return of original documents.
    • In case of case denial, you'll receive instructions on whether an appeal or motion is available. Remember, administrative appeals are only available for specific cases.

After Approval - Next Steps

Once your adjustment of status application is approved, you'll enter the final phase of becoming a permanent resident. Here's what to expect and the next steps to take:

  • Receiving Your Approval and Green Card:
    • Initially, you'll receive an approval notice, followed by a welcome notice.
    • Your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) will arrive in the mail. This could take a few weeks, so patience is key.
    • If your application is denied, remember, you can appeal within 30 days (or 33 days if the decision was mailed).
  • Important Actions Post-Approval:
    • Verify the accuracy of your Green Card as soon as you receive it. Any discrepancies should be reported immediately.
    • Inform your employer about your new status and present your Green Card as proof of work authorization.
    • Replace your social security card if it was marked “VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION.”
    • Men aged between 18 and 26 must register with the U.S. Selective Service System.
  • Passport Stamping and Temporary Green Card:
    • Schedule an INFOPASS appointment at your local USCIS office for passport stamping, which serves as temporary proof of your permanent residency.
    • Bring essential documents to the appointment, including the original approval notice, passport, and additional identification.
    • The I-551 stamp in your passport is valid for 1 year, and your actual Green Card should arrive within two to four weeks of stamping.


  • How long does the adjustment of status to permanent resident typically take? The process of adjusting status to become a permanent resident usually spans from 8 to 14 months for the majority of applicants. The key to achieving the quickest processing time is by providing a complete and meticulously prepared application package.
  • What distinguishes Form I-130 from Form I-485 in the green card process? Form I-130, known as the Petition for Alien Relative, is the initial step in the family-based green card procedure. Following this, Form I-485, or the Application for Adjustment of Status, should be submitted. Specifically, for a marriage-based green card, Form I-485 is utilized to demonstrate that the foreign spouse qualifies for U.S. permanent residency.
  • Can you explain what Form I-485 is used for? Form I-485, also referred to as the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is the form utilized by individuals currently in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status.
  • What are the requirements to be eligible for an adjustment of status? To qualify for an adjustment of status, an individual must meet three main criteria: they must have been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States, be eligible to receive an immigrant visa, and not be inadmissible to the United States for any reason.

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