What is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of Status (AOS) is a process in the United States immigration system that allows certain non-immigrants, such as those on temporary visas like tourist visas (B-1/B-2), student visas (F-1), or work visas (H-1B), to apply for lawful permanent resident status, also known as a green card, without leaving the country. It is an alternative to consular processing, which requires individuals to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
Here are some key points about Adjustment of Status:
- Eligibility: To be eligible for AOS, you typically need to meet certain criteria, such as having an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or a U.S. employer sponsoring you for employment-based immigration. Eligibility criteria can vary based on your specific situation.
- Family-sponsored AOS: If you are eligible for family-sponsored AOS, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member can file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) on your behalf. Once the petition is approved, you can apply for AOS by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- Employment-based AOS: If you are eligible for employment-based AOS, your U.S. employer will typically need to file an immigrant petition (such as Form I-140) on your behalf. Once the petition is approved and a visa number becomes available, you can apply for AOS using Form I-485.
- Required Documentation: When applying for AOS, you will need to submit various forms, supporting documents, and fees, along with undergoing a medical examination and attending an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Work Authorization and Travel: While your AOS application is pending, you may be eligible to apply for work authorization and, in some cases, advance parole (permission to travel outside the U.S.). These documents allow you to work and travel while your green card application is under review.
- Waiting for a Decision: The processing time for AOS applications can vary widely based on factors like visa category, visa bulletin, and USCIS workload. It may take several months to several years to receive a decision on your AOS application.
- Conditional Permanent Residence: In some cases, individuals may be granted conditional permanent resident status, which is valid for two years. To remove the conditions and obtain a permanent green card, you will need to file a joint petition (Form I-751 or Form I-829) with your spouse or employer before the conditional status expires.
Form I-485 checklist of required documents
When filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you’ll need to submit a comprehensive package that includes various forms, supporting documents, and fees. The specific documents required may vary depending on your individual circumstances, such as your immigration category, marital status, and any unique factors applicable to your case. However, here is Form I-485 checklist of commonly required documents:
- Form I-485: The completed and signed Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- Filing Fee: The appropriate filing fee, which can vary based on your age, immigration category, and whether you are required to pay biometric fees. Check the USCIS website for the most current fee information.
- Two Passport-Style Photos: Recent passport-sized photographs of yourself, adhering to USCIS photo requirements. Ensure the photos meet the specifications outlined by USCIS.
- Form G-1145: Optional but recommended. This form allows you to request electronic notification (text or email) of your case’s acceptance by USCIS.
- Form I-693: Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. This form must be completed by a USCIS-approved civil surgeon and include proof of required vaccinations.
- Copy of Passport: A photocopy of your passport page(s) with your biographical information, visa, and any U.S. entry stamps.
- Birth Certificate: A copy of your birth certificate with a certified English translation if the document is in a language other than English.
- Form I-94: A copy of your most recent Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, which can be obtained online.
- Form I-797: Copies of any USCIS approval notices or Notices of Action related to your immigrant petition(s) or other immigration applications.
- Affidavit of Support: If you are filing based on family sponsorship or employment, you may need to submit Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) or Form I-864EZ along with the required financial documentation.
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (if applicable): If you are applying for work authorization along with your Form I-485, include a copy of your Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and any relevant supporting documents.
- Advance Parole Document (if applicable): If you are applying for advance parole (permission to travel while your AOS application is pending), include a copy of your Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) and supporting documents.
- Marriage Certificate (if applicable): If you are applying as a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, include a copy of your marriage certificate.
- Divorce or Death Certificates (if applicable): If you have previously been married or your spouse has passed away, provide copies of divorce decrees or death certificates to establish marital history.
- Supporting Evidence: Depending on your specific situation, you may need to provide additional supporting evidence, such as proof of legal status, police clearances, or affidavits attesting to the bona fides of your marriage (if applicable).